King Willem-Alexander has decided to stop applying for government grants to help manage 3,400 hectares of his Het Loo country estate so that the area can still be closed to the public.
However, he will continue to ask for financial support – some €700,000 a year – for the rest of the estate in Apeldoorn, much of which will remain open to the public all year round.
Until now, the entire estate, in the Veluwe heathland region, has been closed from September 15th to December 25th every year for what have been called ‘privacy reasons’ – widely taken to mean hunting. The state information service RVD confirmed recently that the king does hunt an average of one day a year.
Locals, animal protection organisations and political parties have campaigned for public access all the year round for years and this summer, agriculture minister Carola Schouten said that from 2022, the king will have to submit to the same rules as any other nature reserve in order to be eligible for the subsidy.
That means the area for which subsidy is requested can only be closed for one week a year.
While much of the estate – some 1,300 hectares – will now remain open, the king will continue to close part of the estate ‘to maintain the unique character of this reserve and the peace and silence which is a part of it’ for three months, the RVD said.
Het Loo used to belong to the king’s great grandmother, queen Wilhelmina who handed over 6,700 hectare domain to the state in 1959 on the condition that the royals could have the use of the land.
The royal household is applying for grants totalling €4.2m over six years, the RVD said.
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