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The Netherlands

The Dutch Royal Year in Review

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima
© RVD / Wesley de Wit

The Dutch Royal Family began the year 2020 in good spirits with their annual holiday to Lech and with preparations underway for what would turn out to be their first but also their last state visit of 2020.

As usual, the royal family posed for photos in Lech in exchange for being left alone during their holiday.

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© RVD

Queen Máxima dazzled as she usually does during a state visit but the visit itself had to be toned down after a boat disaster in the country.

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In early March, the first cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to pour in. A joint engagement of Princess Beatrix and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester was cancelled, followed by the news that King’s Day would be cancelled as well. A moving speech by King Willem-Alexander during the first wave of the pandemic had 6.7 million viewers.

However, King’s Day 2020 took on a digital form for the first time as the Dutch royals quickly adapted to the new normal. With a broadcast from their home at Huis ten Bosch, where Queen Máxima and their three daughters joined King Willem-Alexander during a live speech, to kick-off a new type of King’s Day. The extended royal family joined in to digitally toast the King’s birthday.

Screenshot/Fair Use

Early 2020 was also quite scary for the Princess of Orange, as a man suspected of sending her and a friend threatening messages was arrested. He was eventually sentenced to three months in jail in early November.

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Screenshot/fair use

In early May, the annual Remembrance of the Dead also took on quite a different form. Dam Square in Amsterdam is usually packed with people for the remembrance but this year it was almost completely empty. King Willem-Alexander also became the first reigning monarch to hold a speech during the Remembrance of the Dead. The so-called Liberation festivals that follow the Remembrance were all cancelled.

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© RVD / Wesley de Wit

During the third quarter of the year, as the pandemic seemed to be slowing down, the Dutch royals slowly picked up some engagements. The King’s niece, Countess Eloise of Orange-Nassau graduated high school and also became a surprising Instagram star, with currently over 200,000 followers. Eloise was also photographed by the paparazzi as she smoked a cigarette, leading to a rebuke from her parents. Despite the pandemic, the Dutch royals held their summer photocall – though the photographers had to be socially distanced.

In what would turn out to be the first of two holiday faux pas, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were pictured with a staff member of a restaurant in Greece without socially distancing. The second faux pas took place in October when the royals once more jetted off to Greece – where they have a private villa – just after the government advised the Dutch people against travelling abroad. The family returned home and King Willem-Alexander apologised on TV.

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Prinsjesdag – which marks the start of the parliamentary year – and the Speech from the Throne also took on a different form in September. The ceremony was moved to the Grote Kerk in The Hague to allow for social distancing and the royals arrived in a car rather than by carriage.

Although life slowly seemed to return to normal, the Netherlands is currently under a strict lockdown until 19 January 2021 as infection rates rose again rapidly and King Willem-Alexander’s Christmas speech focused heavily on the pandemic but perhaps he said it best in his speech in March, “2020 will be a year to remember. Everyone will experience it differently. But I hope and believe that feelings of solidarity and pride will prevail and bring us all closer, as we get through this most difficult of times together.”