Prime minister Mark Rutte has said he made an ‘error of judgment’ in not preventing the royal family’s much-criticised autumn trip to Greece.
King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and their three daughters flew back from their Peloponnesian holiday home on Saturday, less than a day after leaving on a government jet.
The holiday was widely condemned in parliament and on social media as it came a few days after Rutte announced a ‘partial lockdown’ to contain a second wave of Covid-19 infections and urged people to avoid non-essential travel.
In a letter to MPs, Rutte said he took full ministerial responsibility for the king’s decision, in keeping with protocol, and regretted not intervening sooner. He wrote: ‘I realised too late, especially after the press conference of Tuesday, October 12, that the planned holiday, which complied with the regulations, could no longer be squared with the rising infections and more stringent measures.’
The prime minister added that he had not informed health minister Hugo de Jonge of the royal couple’s holiday. De Jonge was caught off guard by questions about the trip at last Friday’s weekly press conference, when he stood in for Rutte.
In a statement released at the weekend, the king and queen said they had cut short their holiday in response to public criticism. ‘We don’t want there to be any doubt: it is crucial to follow the guidelines in order to get Covid-19 under control and discussion about our holiday is not contributing to that,’ they wrote.
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