Yesterday The Kingdom of the Netherlands inaugurated a new monarch and it was a day tailor-made for monarchists. Even an ocean away your humble mad man made it a point to display the Dutch flag and wear an orange shirt. The leftist elite media, of course, insisted on showing the odd crank in the crowd but they only served to make them look extremely isolated and pathetic in the midst of such throngs of patriotic well-wishers. The ceremony was very "Dutch" which is to say, uncomplicated, not ostentatious but still very dignified and quite regal. One could feel "history" in the air as the new "Princess Beatrix" (that will take some getting used to) came on to the balcony and introduced the new king. When HM King Willem-Alexander spoke, he took the occasion, quite appropriately, to pay tribute to his mother and to thank her for her years of dedicated service. It was a very touching scene, filled with what people on the other side of the world used to call 'filial piety' which is becoming all too rare these days. When the new royal family showed themselves to the people the roar was deafening but they also seemed perfectly comfortable with their new positions, even the new Princess of Orange, now the youngest royal heir to a throne in the world.
At the official inauguration ceremony, King Willem-Alexander, for all of his talk about not wanting to be addressed as "Your Majesty" and having a more informal monarchy, even managed to look quite majestic in his ermine robe. Queen Maxima looked 'every inch a queen' if I may misquote the Bard of Avon. As much as the royal happenings though, my interest was on the crowd outside. From the dignified to the tacky it seemed the whole country had turned out to cheer their new king and it was a heart-warming thing for monarchist eyes and the sort of thing I never get tired of seeing. Some people would no doubt by turned off by some of it, with some people seemingly going out of their way to look and behave with as little dignity as possible, yet I cannot get upset at anyone celebrating their monarchy. And, there were affectionate tears and some who watched in awed silence as history unfolded before their eyes, another new page in the history of the venerable House of Orange. Even those who admitted to the reporters that they were not "really royalists" could not resist getting into the spirit of the occasion and it was touching to see all the happy and eager children with their little projects or souvenirs or the groups that sang songs for the new king.
The occasion also struck me as very much putting the lie to the old republican mantra about monarchy being archaic, out of date and stuck in the past. Looking at both the crowd and the royal couple one cannot but be struck by how much things have changed in the monarchy and The Netherlands as a whole in just the last few years. Among the groups of children were many Asian and African faces, we have a new king who has said he intends to be more "hands-off" when it comes to government than has been the case in the past, which is quite a change from the days of King Willem I or King Willem II when the Dutch monarch was absolute in all but name. And considering what has happened to the Dutch Royal Family in just the previous generation, who would have ever thought that there would be a Queen consort of The Netherlands who is a Latin American Roman Catholic? If anything, the Dutch monarchy has displayed an almost matchless ability to change, whether one regards those changes as being for the better or the worse.
Yesterday was a great day to be Dutch. Just the fact that The Netherlands has a king rather than a queen again is itself almost historic but it is the great love and affection that the Dutch people have for their monarchy and their royal house that I have always found most endearing. Today the watchword may be "change" but one thing that has not changed is the presence of the House of Orange whose princes, kings and queens have watched over, guided and been intimately intertwined with the destiny of the Dutch people, through good times and bad, from the birth of the country to the present day and, hopefully, for an even greater span of time yet to come. Let the cranks wave their ugly cardboard signs around, if yesterday was any indication, the cause of monarchy is alive and well in the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Again, all our congratulations to the new sovereign and consort and Lang leve de Koning!