Saturday, February 2, 2013

News: The Abdication


 The big news this week (which many people seemed very worried that I “missed”) was the announcement from HM Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands that, as of Queen’s Day this April, she will be abdicating the Dutch throne after more than thirty years of dedicated and exemplary service to her people and country. Personally, I am not wild about abdications, preferring monarchs to reign as long as they live, however, in The Netherlands it has become something of a tradition. King Willem I abdicated in 1840 to marry a Catholic Belgian which was not terribly popular with the Dutch public, though, had he abdicated sooner in favor of his more popular son it might have been possible to keep Belgium in the United Netherlands but, that was not to be. King Willem II reigned until his death in 1849 and King Willem III did the same, reigning until his death in 1890. The formidable Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948, upset over the loss of the Dutch empire in the East Indies. Queen Juliana abdicated in 1980 and now Queen Beatrix will abdicate in 2013, passing the throne to the Prince of Orange who, according to the palace, will reign as King Willem-Alexander I, the first Dutch monarch to use two names.

Throughout her reign HM Queen Beatrix has soon good times as well as bad and during her life she has seen The Netherlands come from the darkest days of her recent history to be one of the most successful countries in Europe. She has also known some controversy, such as with her marriage to the late Prince Claus, but even that seems almost like a Dutch tradition. Queen Juliana before her faced similar controversy and Prince Willem-Alexander did as well. These cases, however, seem to involve that ugly minority of people who are intent to find something to protest and feign outrage over regardless of the facts of the situation. When Queen Beatrix was formally enthroned some socialist and republican groups took the opportunity to protest, hoping to take advantage of the media attention to get their pictures in the paper and on television screens (ostensibly upset over a housing issue) but, on the whole, the Dutch people have always been very supportive of their monarchy and royal occasions invariably turn the country into a sea of orange as people from every section of society celebrates their Queen and Royal Family. Orange clothes, orange streamers on flags and even ostentatious orange wigs are commonly seen.

In politics, HM Queen Beatrix never exercised actual power but has always been closely involved with the political process. She is regularly consulted by the prime minister, serves as president of the Council of State, signs all bills into law and announces the government agenda at the start of each political season. This is a situation which, happily, has invariably been respected and appreciated by the Dutch governments but recently the part of the Queen in the political process was questioned by the controversial politician Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom who called for an end to any role for the monarchy in the political process, even though Queen Beatrix has never refused royal assent to any bill put before her. Happily, this issue has gained no traction and does not seem likely to go anywhere. The Queen has had more influence in the area of foreign relations and has done exemplary work in this regard, raising the profile of The Netherlands and establishing closer and more friendly relations with countries around the world through her foreign visits and hosting of visiting foreign dignitaries. Throughout her years on the throne, Queen Beatrix has been the greatest representative of The Netherlands that anyone could ask for.

HM the Queen has said that her abdication comes, not because the job is too much for her, but because it is time, in her view, to pass leadership to the next generation. In this case, that will be the soon-to-be King Willem-Alexander I and Queen Maxima. I have no doubt that the Queen could continue, doing her usual excellent job, for many, many years to come but certainly no one could blame her even if she had decided that the ‘job’ was too much. Recent years have not been easy for the Queen who was deeply, very deeply, affected by the death of her beloved husband, Prince Claus, in 2002. Then, of course, last year her second son Prince Friso was buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria and has been mostly comatose ever since with brain damage due to lack of oxygen. In 2009 a deranged man tried to crash his car into a bus carrying the Queen and Royal Family, none of whom were hurt fortunately but eight bystanders will killed and many others badly injured. Few people, especially among the gossip crowd and professional critics, seem to ever consider the emotional toll all of this must have taken on the Queen and it makes her dedicated service all the more remarkable and praiseworthy.

Queen Beatrix has been an outstanding monarch and there is probably no better evidence of that than her enormous popularity. That is actually more significant than it may seem. At a time when modern society, in The Netherlands as in so many other countries, is being intentionally divided over numerous moral and political issues, the beloved Queen Beatrix has been the greatest source of national unity in Dutch life. The public may be divided over issues from economics to immigration but national holidays honoring the Queen are always occasions that bring out everyone in united and joyful celebration. If Queen Beatrix had done nothing else during her 33 years on the throne, that alone would ensure that her reign was not wasted and entitle her to the respect and thanks of a grateful people. It will be difficult not having the Queen presiding over national affairs anymore but the Prince of Orange has shown himself ready to take up the top job and no one can say more of Queen Beatrix than to offer loyal and sincere thanks for more than three decades of good and faithful service. She will always occupy a warm place in the hearts of all loyal and patriotic sons and daughters of The Netherlands. God bless the Queen and long live the future King!

10 comments:

  1. Ok, im going to say something that some monarchist will consider impolite.

    I think that the monarch can't abdicate of his throne. Because he has been put in there by God, and he can't disobey the will of God, so if he steps down of the throne he will be messing with a divine command, and i don't think that the one in heavens approves this, he will still holds him responsable of what happens in the kingdom. In other words, its no matter if he or she no longer has a crown in his head, he will still be considered the king of his country, unless god takes away his crown.

    And for my dear fellow countrywoman and princess, i dissaprove her views on almost every important issue, she supports the islamic inmigration, she is one of the few royals in the world that supports the (so-called) LGTB "rights", and gods knows what else she supports.

    And that leads me to a big question, the monarchs are supposed to be (or at least try it) like a shepherd to his people, a bridge between, two worlds, the fiercest warrior, a just judge, etc. But the present time european monarchs (except a few cases) don't seem to be not even close to what a medieval Crusader King was. And because of that i make to myself a question, Do they still have the divine right to rule, or the thrones of the world are just empty waiting for a chosen to be crowned?. And when my make to myself this question, two quotes come to my mind, one of Charles X of France, "I prefer watching the grass grow to be a constitutional monarch", and makes me remember a phrase of the Bonnie Blue Flag, "Rather than submit to shame to die we would prefer!"

    Hi from Argentina.

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    1. Well, if you haven't noticed, we don't live in "medieval Crusader" times anymore. Cultures are made by peoples, not by monarchs and monarchs or other royals cannot be expected to defend values that their people have abandoned. I don't like the situation myself, but it is up to average laypeople to change the culture and not blame their monarchs or their royals for not saving them from their own decisions. Some monarchs resisted and were destroyed, others compromised and survived. I don't like compromise but I do recognize that once a monarchy is gone, 99 times out of a 100 it is gone *forever* and no monarchist should want that to happen.

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  2. I'm not a fan of abdications in general, as Argentinian Monarchist pointed out, the crown is a sacred duty passed down from God to serve one's nation, and is supposed to be held for life.

    However, one of the brilliant things about monarchy is the way in which it reflects the unique culture and ideals of each country, rather than the cookie cutter uniformity of republics. In this case, I think an exception to the rule has to be made, since the Netherlands does have a very long tradition of monarchs abdicating, both under pressure, and for voluntary retirement. It just seems to be the rule there that monarchs are not expected to die on the throne, so that's just the Dutch way. It would be different if it were being forced on the Queen by corrupt politicians or other external forces, but we've seen no evidence that this is anything other than her personal choice, and I think respecting and honoring her wishes is just the right thing to do.

    Thinking about it, including the illegitimate French puppet Kingdom of Holland, 6 out of 8 Dutch monarchs will have now abdicated, making Willem II and Willem III very much the exception to the rule.

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    1. As I said above, I'm not a big fan of abdications either, but that has become the tradition in The Netherlands and it is for the Queen to decide. I should probably also point out, though again this is not the way I would prefer things, that in The Netherlands the Crown belongs to the people and is in their gift, which is why no Dutch monarch is allowed to actually wear the Crown or have a coronation. That is not the way I would prefer things but, of course, monarchy is not about preference. Rather than quibble, I'm just grateful that the Orange party prevailed and that The Netherlands became one of those precious few countries to start out as a republic and end up as a monarchy with strong popular support.

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  3. It is a very noble thing to do, to abdicate for one's heir. Being a monarch is not a fancy life of riches and fame like some monarchs dissolute lives have been. I will not mention any names. But Kings like Charles I of Spain, who retired to a monastery and abdicated his crown to his son Felipe II and the crown of Austria was abdicated to his brother Ferdinand are examples of enlightened care for the realms which they governed. All three of these worked night and day taking care of the isues of the country. A monarch is important in foreign policy, the monarch by public gestures can influence alliances and defuse conflicts. See Edward VII of England for example.

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  4. Argentinian Monarchist, "...dissaprove her views on almost every important issue, she supports the islamic inmigration, she is one of the few royals in the world that supports the (so-called) LGTB "rights"..."

    MadMonarchist, "...Some monarchs resisted and were destroyed, others compromised and survived..."

    The conclusion of this horrid reality: All ye faithful, welcome to hell!!

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  5. " will reign as King Willem-Alexander I, the first Dutch monarch to use two names..."

    I think the royal family try to distant themselves from the last King Willem of Netherlands", the conservative King Willem III.

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    1. I doubt he's more known for being a "conservative" than for his famously immoral private life and almost starting a war between France and Prussia over Luxembourg -but I could be wrong.

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  6. Fascinating, from the perspective of an American citizen, not ever having lived under a monarchy or royal system. Nice blog work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the Nav Bar located at the top of my blogger.com site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes for the New Year.

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  7. I'd like to add my two cents in response to the abdication. Dutch Kings or Queens are not crowned, they're sworn in. It's subtle differences like that which make the position of the Dutch monarch different than in other monarchies.

    In fact, even though the event is held in a church, it's not a religious ceremony, the Church is just the venue. Notice the absence of any Church officials. The Prince or Princess pledges to the constitution and the people of the Netherlands. God is only mentioned at the end with a resounding "So help me God allmighty". Quote - in Dutch - below.


    "Ik zweer aan de volkeren van het Koninkrijk dat Ik het Statuut voor het Koninkrijk en de Grondwet steeds zal onderhouden en handhaven.

    Ik zweer dat Ik de onafhankelijkheid en het grondgebied van het Koninkrijk met al Mijn vermogen zal verdedigen en bewaren; dat Ik de vrijheid en de rechten van alle Nederlanders en alle ingezetenen zal beschermen, en tot instandhouding en bevordering van de welvaart alle middelen zal aanwenden welke de wetten Mij ter beschikking stellen, zoals een goed en getrouw Koning schuldig is te doen.

    Zo waarlijk helpe Mij God almachtig!"

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