Stay home out of respect for care workers, king says in birthday speech

The royal family pose on the king's birthday. Photo: Patrick van Katwijk
The royal family pose on the king’s birthday. Photo: Patrick van Katwijk

King Willem-Alexander has urged the people of the Netherlands to stay home out of respect for care workers, in a short speech to mark his 53rd birthday.

Preceded by a digital version of the national anthem Wilhelmus played by the Concertgebouw orchestra, king Willem-Alexander, surrounded by his wife and three daughters, welcomed the nation to ‘Koningsdag thuis’ from his own home at Palace Huis ten Bosch in The Hague this morning.

In his speech, the king said this King’s Day was ‘unique’ and that he hoped it would the ‘last but the last time’ King’s Day would have to be celebrated without pictures of the ‘normally reticent Dutch going completely crazy’.

The king praised the show of unity by citizens but warned that it was important to ‘hold on’. He said he understood people’s frustration at not being given more freedom of movement, saying the disappointment was palpable in his own home as well.

However, he warned it would be too soon and the virus could come back, echoing prime minister Mark Rutte’s concerns. The king urged people to show their respect for healthcare professionals by keeping going with social distancing. ‘Do it for yourself, and do it for them,’ the king said.

Meanwhile, in the annual survey on attitudes to the monarchy, the king was given a score of 7.7 out 10 for the way he has done his job in the past year. Queen Maxima scored eight out of 10.

Some three-quarters of those polled said they have confidence in the king and the same proportion want the monarchy to continue, a rise on last year’s 68%.

Some 15% say they would rather have a republic, and that rises to one in five among youngsters.

Support for the royal family is biggest among CDA and VVD voters and lowest among people to support the two Dutch far right parties PVV and FvD. They are most likely to be concerned about the cost of keeping the royal family, which is one of the most expensive in Europe.

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