Dutch state defends king Willem-Alexander in lawsuit over monarchy

King Willem-Alexander wearing the ermine robe, April 2013. Photo: Koos Breukel / RVD
King Willem-Alexander wearing the ermine robe, April 2013. Photo: Koos Breukel / RVD

The king himself was absent but his personal lawyer and legal counsel for the Dutch government appeared in a courtroom in The Hague on Wednesday to defend the monarchy against a lawsuit from republicans who claim the existence of a king violates fair trial rights.

The republican organisation Republiek first filed the lawsuit two years ago. The group argues the king’s role in the legal system is at odds with the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees Europeans a free and fair trial.

‘The state must provide safeguards against undue influence against other powers,’ Republiek’s lawyer Ewout Jansen told the three-judge panel, who sit directly underneath the portrait of King Willem-Alexander, present in every courtroom in the country.

Lawyers for the state claim that there is a difference between the king as a private person and the king as the head of state. ‘There is no immunity for the king,’ Reimer Veldhuis, state attorney for the Netherlands said.

Judges in the Netherlands are appointed by the king and must pledge their loyalty to him before being appointed. Lawyers also have to make the same pledge before being admitted to the bar.

The group wants to bring an end to those procedures, as well as the symbolic appearances of the king throughout the judicial system, including the courtroom portraits.

‘We see that more and more people are critical of the royal house and that it has fewer and fewer supporterss,’ the group’s chairman Floris Müller told reporters at a press conference following the hearing.

The court is expected to announce its verdict on March 8.

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