Dutch king focuses on freedom, urges people to listen to each other

The king giving his speech. Photo: Arenda Oomen via HH
The king giving his speech. Photo: Arenda Oomen via HH

King Willem-Alexander’s Christmas speech to the nation focused on the theme of freedom this year.

Freedom, the king said, is a flame that burns in the heart of the Netherlands. ‘But that freedom has a price,’ he said. ‘It demands reason, a willingness to give each other space and tolerance. ‘

The Netherlands, he said, is a successful country because it is a country in which people work together. ‘Even if emotions can run high, the Dutch have a feeling of togetherness. That is our strength. This contributes not only to a country which performs well, but to a land in which people are happy,’ the king said.

At the same time, young people in particular should ‘give yourself space’, the king said, speaking in the hall of the Huis ten Bosch palace where the royal family live.  Doubt, sadness and insecurity are all part of life, the king said.

‘As free people, we want to get the best out of life, and we blame ourselves if that does not happen. We reflect ourselves in others, we aim too high and we want to present a perfect version of ourselves to the rest of the world… but no-one is perfect.’

‘Our happiness lies in our connections to others. We should not let each other go. We should listen to each other and show understanding… it helps if you look at someone and say “it is okay”,’ the king said.

‘A listening ear, an outstretched hand or a shoulder to lean on is the best present a person can give, and not only at Christmas.’

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