Joost Smiers doesn’t think much of the moral fibre of the royals and thinks they should go.
Matte Mourik’s impressive documentary The Foolish Son, about Jorge Zorreguieta, set me thinking again. Matte’s father, diplomat and poet Maarten Mourik, pressed charges against Zorreguieta on the grounds that as minister in charge of Argentina’s vital agricultural sector, Máxima’s father must have known that over 30,000 people were murdered during the dictatorship and therefore must bear part of the responsibility.
The film highlights three events leading up to the royal wedding which show we shouldn’t continue with this royal family. The first of these took place when Maarten Mourik declared on television that he felt an alliance between the Dutch royal family and someone whose father is partly responsible for the murder of many Argentinians would be undesirable. The following day Mourik received a letter from the queen in which she asked him to occupy himself with more important matters and leave Zorreguieta alone. A royal family who has the temerity to do this should go.
The second event which makes it impossible to accept Willem-Alexander as my sovereign dates from before the engagement of the then prince, when it became clear his prospective father-in-law’s reputation left something to be desired, and that was putting it mildly. Prime minister Wim Kok found himself in a predicament: what are we to do with daddy? Should we welcome him or not? And first and foremost: what did he do during Videla’s murderous regime?
The government asked professor Baud to find out what the former agriculture minister had been up to. Baud is director of CEDLA, the centre for Latin American research and documentation at Amsterdam University. His conclusion was unequivocal: Zorreguieta must have known about the murders. On the basis of his report, the government decided to bar Zorreguieta from official royal ceremonies such as the wedding and the investiture.
Just another opinion
The documentary shows part of the interview with Máxima and Willem-Alexander in which they are asked about Baud’s findings. Máxima: ‘It’s just another opinion.’ To which a jocular Willem-Alexander added: ‘Yes, it’s only one man’s opinion; opinions differ.’ I remember being completely flabbergasted by this. Now I say this man is not fit to be our king.
The government commissions an investigation; Willem-Alexander doesn’t like it and poo-poos the results. Our heir to the throne treats the advice given to the government with contempt and doesn’t care a hoot about the principles of parliamentary democracy and the place of the monarchy in it. What Willem-Alexander doesn’t like, he dismisses. If this is how he sees his role we may be in for some surprises. But I don’t really want to wait that long: off with him.
The third event is the debate at the time in which it was argued that the daughter can’t be held responsible for the sins of the father. That is true enough. But in Mourik’s documentary his sister Ruth says something that goes directly to the heart of the matter.
In the documentary, Máxima says she only asked her father if he knew about the murders after she became engaged to Willem-Alexander, which is when the scandal surrounding her father erupted. Her father said he didn’t know anything. His daughter asked no more.
Ruth Mourik finds this astonishing: everything points to the fact that Videla’s most important minister must have known about the mass murders taking place and yet the daughter chooses to believe a father who is trying to hide his guilt. How can anyone with so little moral backbone be our queen, she asks.
I didn’t really need convincing but Matte Mourik’s documentary has made it clear to me that Willem-Alexander and Máxima shouldn’t be our king and queen. They don’t respect the principles of parliamentary democracy and their role in it. And what is worse their moral integrity is about as solid as the foam on a glass of beer.
Dr. Joost Smiers is Professor (em.) of Political Science of the arts, Research Fellow in the Research Group Arts & Economics at the Utrecht School of the Arts.
This article was published earlier in the Volkskrant
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