Thursday 26 January 2023

Questions raised over public subsidy for Dutch king’s country estate

Aerial view of the Palace Het Loo. Photo: Holland Mediabank

King Willem-Alexander will be requesting a subsidy for the upkeep of the Het Loo country estate, despite new rules which make closing the estate to visitors and state support mutually exclusive.

Het Loo is closed to the public from September 15 to December 25th every year for ‘reasons of privacy’ but some suspect that hunting parties may be another reason.

The state information service RVD confirmed that the king hunts an average of one day a year on the estate but said that 90% of the hunting activities are 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 license, the RIVD said.

Locals, animal protection organisations and political parties have campaigned for public access all the year round for many years. In 2020, MPs asked the government for clarification about the matter, since the king receives a subsidy of €4.7m for the estate every five years.

The Dutch king, who was asked about the subsidy at a press conference at the close of a three day royal visit to Norway, did not elaborate but mentioned four different subsidy categories, only one of which stipulates public access.

‘It’s a puzzle,’ the king told reporters, stressing that the area is a nature reserve. ‘That means people are welcome but that recreation is not primarily what it is meant for.’

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