Tuesday 21 March 2023

King must choose between annual hunt at Het Loo or lose subsidy

The palace and formal gardens. Photo: Holland.com

King Willem-Alexander must stop closing his Het Loo country estate to the public or lose a sizeable government subsidy for its upkeep, caretaker minister Carola Schouten has decided.

The estate, in the Veluwe heathland region, is closed from September 15th to December 25th every year for what the minister earlier called ‘privacy reasons’. The widely held assumption is, however, that the royals reserve the period for hunting.

Locals, animal protection organisations and political parties have campaigned for public access all the year round for years.

Last year, MPs asked the government for clarification about the matter, particularly since the king receives a subsidy of €4.7m every five years. Prime minister Mark Rutte then promised that MPs would be informed about subsequent subsidy decisions.

Schouten has now 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 park can only be closed for one week a year.

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.

If the king chooses to pay for the upkeep of the estate from his own pocket he will be able to decide about opening times himself.

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