King Willem-Alexander hunts an average of one day a year on his Het Loo country estate, state information service RVD confirmed on Tuesday.
The estate, in the Veluwe heathland region, is closed from September 15th to December 25th every year for what the the government has called ‘privacy reasons’. The widely held assumption was, however, that the royals reserve the period for hunting.
The RVD has now confirmed hunting takes place on the estate, but says 90% is carried out by professional game keepers employed by the royal family to manage the wildlife. However, some members of the royal family and their guests do hunt under supervision, if they have a licence, the RIVD said.
Locals, animal protection organisations and political parties have campaigned for public access all the year round for years and last year, MPs asked the government for clarification about the matter, particularly since the king receives a subsidy of €4.7m for the estate every five years.
This summer, agriculture minister Carola Schouten 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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