Bursting the Bubble

The W for Willem!

30 April 2013 | by

Finally, the big day in the Dutcherlands arrived! Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, is set to become the country’s first king in more than a century when his mother, the current Queen Beatrix, abdicates after 30 years on the throne.

Newspapers are filled with discussions on the most important topics: How are they preparing? What will Princess Maxima wear? What is the weather going to be like? (Even though it’s always crap.) Dutch citizens can’t wait to wear their lovely orange shirts and weird hats again and party like never before. A few important things I would like to share with you before getting the party started.

First of all, the name. The new King will not be known as king Willem IV but as Willem-Alexander. All the former kings ruled under the name Willem, so this means that the tradition will be broken. Why? When looking at the last king Willem, we can conclude that he was not the most popular king. King Willem III, also known by the nickname ‘King Gorilla’, due to his explosive character, was viewed as a heated, egoistic and tempered person. King Willem II doesn’t have a glorious history either. In 1830 he nominated himself Belgium’s Head of State. He did this after the Belgian revolution (which led to the secession of Belgium from the Netherlands) broke out and that was a bit embarrassing. His predecessor, king Willem I, had some problems with state finances, because he resisted the independence of Belgium. So, maybe the former Willems’ disgraced the name to such an extent that our new Willem now doesn’t want to bear the heritage of that name. Or maybe he simply prefers the name Willem-Alexander. We don’t know. What we do know is that Holland will have a male head of state again, after more than 100 years.

Secondly, the gift. The tradition is that the new Head of State receives a gift from the citizens. In the past this used to be for example a boat. However, this year Queen Beatrix decided that given the financial situation in the Netherlands due to the economic recession, there should be no national present. Prime Minister Rutte announced that Queen Beatrix and her son want to have a celebration within the financial boundaries of the current difficult economic time. So, luckily the only costs incurred were € 5 million for the inauguration (exclusive the costs for security) and € 7 million that the city of Amsterdam spent for the organisation of the inauguration.

Thirdly, the song (which was supposed to be the gift). The song contained lyrics such as: “I build a dyke with my bare hands and keep the water away” and “three fingers in the air, come on, come on. That’s the W (sign) for Willem, the W which represents being wakeful and eating ‘stamppot'” (a traditional Dutch dish made from vegetables and a sausage). Composer John Ewbank, who wrote the song which was to be sung at Willem-Alexander’s inauguration, forgot one thing: social media. More critical and harsher than ever, everyone had something negative to say about the song. Poor John received insults and death threats and decided to withdraw the song.

Let’s hope things will go better during Willem-Alexander’s most important day. This will also entail a drastic change for the Queen’s life. I mean, what does a retired Queen actually do? Relax at the golf course? Have a beer with some old friends at the pub? Or hang out with the retired Pope? I’m sure that she’ll be fine. After these 30 years, she can have some rest and enjoy.

What do you think?