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CoronavirusThe Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima remember the war dead on empty Dam Square


King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands attended the annual Remembrance of the Dead, with one huge difference from previous years, whereas before Amsterdam’s Dam Square was packed with people, it was now almost completely empty.

Although the Remembrance began as a commemoration of the victims of the Second World War, it now includes all Dutch victims, civilians and soldiers, who have been killed in the Netherlands or anywhere in the world in war situations or during peace-keeping operations since the outbreak of the Second World War.

Just before 8 P.M. the King and Queen made their way from the Royal Palace to the other side of the Dam Square to the National Monument where they placed a wreath. Additional wreaths were accompanied by a video message and were placed by two siblings belonging to the Scouts to abide by social distancing rules. At precisely 8 P.M., two minutes of silence were held across the country. It is a tradition that even public transport stops running during those two minutes. King Willem-Alexander made a speech on Dam Square. It was the first time in history that a reigning monarch spoke during the Remembrance of the Dead.

remembrance 2020
Screenshot/Fair use

He ended the speech with the words, “We can do it, together, in freedom.”

Others attendees were the Mayor of Amsterdam and the President of the National Committee. Due to the Coronavirus, people were asked to watch the memorial service on the TV or via the live stream. After the wreath-laying, 16-year-old Eva Pronk read her own poem called Freedom.

Tomorrow, the Netherlands traditionally celebrates the anniversary of the liberation. The annual 5 May Lecture was to be held by the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel this year. Unfortunately, this will no longer take place. Several so-called Liberation Festivals all across the country have also been cancelled. An online musical programme is still expected to go ahead.