Friday 21 February 2020

Princess Amalia take note, no songs and no balloons

Several things have already gone wrong with the preparations for king Willem-Alexander’s investiture. DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe hopes his daughter Amalia will learn from the mistakes.

Dear Amalia,

Your dad is just about to take over the throne from your grandmother. Your dad told us in his television interview that you’ve already asked how long he plans to do the job, because of course, when he stands down, you get to be queen.

You are only nine now. Hopefully your dad will be king for a good few years – 30 seems to be a good number – so you’ve got plenty of time to learn the ropes and get to grips with your future job.

Hopefully too, you’ll have enough time to properly plan your investiture as queen, so you can avoid the mistakes that are being made for your dad’s big day.

Potatoes

Firstly, don’t have a song. Do you really want your subjects singing to you? If you do, go for something classical and operatic. Avoid letting the committee which is organising your investiture ask the public to come up with the words. You don’t want to end up with a song which goes on and on about the wind and the rain, building dykes with your bare hands and having mashed potatoes for breakfast.

Fortunately, the composer of your dad’s song has decided to withdraw it, so you won’t have to listen to the entire nation rapping about the W from Willem, when your dad has made it quite clear he wants to be known as Willem-Alexander.

Secondly, no balloons. Amsterdam city council has been forced to cancel its plans to set off 150,000 balloons following objections from all sorts of environmental groups because of the risk to wildlife.

These protestors include the very respectable natural heritage group Natuurmonumenten, which is chaired by the redoubtable Hans Wijers. He also happens to be chairman of the committee organising your dad’s investiture. Oops. Amsterdam city alderman Andrée van Es, who represents the environmental party GroenLinks, is also on the committee. Double oops.

Holidays

Thirdly, don’t do it on King’s Day. (In case you had not noticed, your dad is changing Queen’s Day to King’s Day – his birthday – on April 26). But you would do well to avoid the clash.

Amsterdam city council has a massive headache in sorting out the logistics of combining hundreds of foreign guests and princes and princesses with the drunken hoards who flock to the capital for the Queen’s Day festivities.

So avoid. And if you do it on another day, your subjects will love you even more because they’ll get an extra day off.

Crown

Fourthly, learn to wear the crown. The state information service was very quick to stress to the foreign press that your dad is not having a coronation and that no one will put the crown on his head because it is too big and heavy. Which begs the question what is the point of having a crown in the first place?

So we have to keep talking about an investiture rather than a coronation, which is not nearly glamorous enough. Think of the fabulous photos. Be a queen with a crown. Please.

Fifthly, ban all the MPs and senators who don’t want to swear allegiance to you. There’s a sizeable bunch who’ve made it quite clear they aren’t going to take part in your dad’s ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk because of their republican or other principles but plan to turn up and watch anyway. It’s your party so don’t let them come.

Sail

Sixthly, if you decide to have a boat trip, please make it on a great boat. Your mum and dad will apparently do their waving at the crowds from a modern launch borrowed from the city’s water inspectorate. How cheap can you get?

Your gran has a wonderful wooden boat powered by a team of rowers. The powers that be said it needed restoration before it could be used and it would take too long. You’ve got 30 years. Make sure it’s ready.

Seventhly, spend some money. You’re going to be queen and one of the richest women in the world, so you’ll have lots. Splash out. The very day your gran announced her decision to step down, prime minister Mark Rutte was quick to say the festivities would be sober, low key and within strict budgetary limits. And they were looking for sponsors.

Souvenirs

Have you seen some of the generous gestures your subjects have been making so far? Everyone’s out to make money… you can’t go into the DIY store without being confronted with gold plastic crowns and orange chairs.

One company went as far as having manhole covers made up with your mum and dad’s heads on them. Manhole covers? Good grief. They are going to be king and queen, not head of the local waterworks.

So what are we getting for our few million euros? Well, we are getting balloons which have been cancelled, a song which no-one wants to sing, no extra day holiday and a boat trip down the IJ in a boat with no allure. To top it all, we don’t even get a coronation.

Amalia, you’ve got 30 years to get it right. Make the most of them.

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