Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So the Kingdom of the Netherlands finally has a King

I’m back in the Netherlands from my road trip and currently watching history unfold before the television—the Netherlands has a new king after 120 years! As I write this, the festivities in orange-bedecked Amsterdam is far from over. In fact, the party has just begun.

It’s been mentioned a few times in this blog that I am not into the monarchy thing. I don’t follow personalities in general per se. However, I see royalty as culture and an important part of the country’s history, so therefore I regard their presence and identity well in the society.

Life as a high-profile royal, especially a European royal is not an easy walk in the park. Because gone are the days that royals have real power. They are somewhat demoted to being the PR house (press relations) of the country and are often seen as a symbol that unites the nation and as an image representation internationally.

THIS IS A FACT: European royals live in glass covered palaces. Everything they do are subjected to criticism. They have a committee of advisors that help them give meaning to privacy and living normal lives, away from the scrutiny of the media and the public. Royals in principle have no real freedom; they can’t even speak out their minds? They learn to become puppets and people pleasers.

This is what happens when you have an empowered and watchful media - populace that can and will find fault on everything about people placed on pedestals.

I can’t say much about royals in other parts of the world, but try criticising the king or queen of an Asian or Arab country and you’ll see serious ramifications. Whereas in Europe, the royals—kings and queens, and princes and princesses have become the laughing stock of many tabloids, public commentary platforms and television commercials and shows. They are fragile and their existence are at the hands of their people (check out the troubled royals in Spain and Belgium). Times indeed have changed!

Hmm, definitely not a place I would love to sit. Like I said, it is not easy being a royal in Europe.

TRIVIA: Did you know that in the Netherlands the king is not crowned but instead inaugurated? He does not literally wear the crown compared to their counterpart in the UK (where the Queen literally wears the crown). In the Netherlands, the crown is seen as a symbol only. Because in reality, the royal house does not have power over the politics and the land.

Interestingly, many Dutch people (and I think Europeans in a country with a royal house) would not ever want to be in their shoes. I remember growing up and dreaming of becoming a princess—don’t we all go through this phase? Well, let’s just say that I am glad it remains a dream of a bygone childhood era.

Here’s a good write up from BBC about the adaptability of the Dutch Royal ‘Orange’ House into the 21st century.

Willem-Alexander sworn in as King of the Netherlands
BBC picture slideshow of the event

More picture slideshow from NU.nl:

King Willem-Alexander inauguration
Royal boat parade on Het IJ
More pictures of other European royals guests 

Lastly, you might ask why I or we didn’t go to Amsterdam to witness the event? Well, firstly, we are not royal fans... secondly, we hate crowds... and thirdly, we are not anymore into partying. It’s better to follow the events on the tube in the comforts of my lounge chair.

Other than that, I really had no energy left after my road trip. I even slept on the sofa this afternoon watching the event. Dutchman and I were glad we stayed at home, relaxed and far from the craziness we are watching on TV.

Nevertheless, more soon about the road trip I made =)

April 30, 2013
The Netherlands

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