By Bonnie Klap.
“Prinsjesdag,” which, literally translated, means “Day of the little Prince” traditionally takes place every year on the third Tuesday in September in the historic Knights’ Hall in the centre of The Hague. In the 17th and 18th century Prinsjesdag used to mark the birthdays of the Princes of Orange, but later on the word Prinsjesdag would also be used for Royal weddings, important Royal events and – as is still done to this day – for the ceremonial presentation of the National Budget and the opening of the new Parliamentary Year.
This significant political event is broadcasted live on Dutch television every year and is paired with pomp and ceremony. For the very first time the new King Willem- Alexander delivered his speech from the throne, which was actually written by Prime-Minister Mark Rutte, aided by Government officials. On Prinsjesdag King Willem-Alexander and his charming wife, Queen Maxima, were driven to the Knights’ Hall in the famous Golden Carriage, drawn by eight horses. The Golden Carriage obviously is not made out of solid gold, but is made of Indonesian teakwood, partially covered with gold leaf. It was a gift from the people of the city of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina, King Willem-Alexander’s great-grandmother in, 1898.
Although the pomp, glamour and ceremony make for an appealing and elegant spectacle, the persistent economic woes of the Euro-zone and of The Netherlands in particular, took center stage once again this year. The Minister of Finance, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, played quite a prominent role. According to old tradition the Minister of Finance carried the suitcase with the inscriptions: “Third Tuesday in September,” containing the strictly-classified budget proposals for the new Parliamentary Year. The term “strictly classified” should not be taken too seriously, as certain passages had already been leaked to the press, as happens every year. As was expected King Willem-Alexander had to deliver his first speech from the Throne, which was rife with economic doom and gloom. Unemployment numbers in The Netherlands are high – and increasing with 700 new persons losing their jobs every day – the housing market is still worrisome, purchasing power has decreased and the number of bankruptcies has increased , to name but a few of the many problems that plague the Dutch Government. Fortunately King Willem Alexander was also able to mention a few positive points, such as the fact that the global crisis has turned the corner and there is now a healthier economic outlook, at least globally. It will take some time and a series of painful measures such as tax-increases before the same can be said of the Dutch economy.