Low-key start to the parliamentary year, no coach and no Knights’ Hall speech

Photo: Mauvries via Depositphotos.com
Photo: Mauvries via Depositphotos.com

For the second year in a row, king Willem-Alexander will deliver his speech marking the opening of the new parliamentary year in the Grote Kerk in The Hague, not in the parliamentary complex.

Nor will the king and queen travel to the ceremony in a horse-drive coach – an event which in an ordinary year draws massive crowds.

The decision to hold a more low-key ceremony on September 21 has been taken by the chairwomen of both houses of parliament and the city’s mayor Jan van Zanen because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.

It is only the second time in 100 years that the Prinsjesdag ceremony, during which the government outlines its plans for the coming year, has taken place in the church rather than in the Ridderzaal, or Knights’ Chamber.

This year the king’s speech will not include any major policy initiatives because the plans have been drawn up by the caretaker government. The Netherlands is still without a new coalition, following the general election in March.

Prime minister Mark Rutte and foreign minister Sigrid Kaag, leader of the two biggest parties in parliament, are currently working on a joint document which they hope will kick start the formation talks after the summer recess is over.

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