Former PM Mark Rutte gets Netherlands’ highest knighthood


Former prime minister Mark Rutte has been given the highest Dutch knighthood by King Willem-Alexander for his service leading the country for 14 years.

According to the government news service, a decision was made on Tuesday to award him Ridder Grootkruis in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw – a grand cross knight in the Dutch lion order.

Previous prime ministers Ruud Lubbers and Willem Drees, as well as former queen princess Beatrix and the late British queen Elizabeth II were given the same honour. Foreign leaders such as former German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister Winston Churchill were also awarded the knighthood.

Rutte handed over the keys to the prime ministerial tower to apolitical appointee Dick Schoof on Tuesday, and will take up the prestigious position of secretary general of NATO in October.

In a departing speech on Sunday, he said the Netherlands was a “great” country, although he regretted the childcare benefits affair and his governments’ treatment of Groningen. “Look after each other a bit,” he said. “I’m counting on you.”

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