King Willem-Alexander addressed the House of Commons and the House of Lords today and spoke of his regret that the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union but before he did so he touched on the unique relationship between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
“You are our North Sea neighbour, but you are also much more than that. You are our ally and partner. You are our friend. And in many ways, you are a source of inspiration to us.
We Dutch will never forget the courage and self-sacrifice of the British armed forces who fought in two World Wars for freedom in Europe. Back then, the United Kingdom stood firm in the face of violence and terror. That image is engraved in our collective memory.”
The King also remembered the reign of Dutch-born King William III who ruled jointly with his wife Queen Mary II.
“It was a member of the House of Orange who had the dubious honour of leading the last successful invasion of your country. I am of course talking about the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange, played a central role.
The rule of Mary and William went hand in hand with a reaffirmation of the rights of Parliament. Free elections, freedom of speech and protection from arbitrary power were enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
This laid the foundations for the strong constitutional monarchy of which the United Kingdom is justly proud. You are all heirs of these values that were laid down almost 330 years ago.”
The King then approached the subject of Brexit and expressed his sadness.
“The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union. It truly saddens us to see a close partner leave. But of course, we fully respect your country’s choice.
Foreseeing the consequences of Brexit is a highly complex task, as is finding a solution in the time available that’s acceptable to everyone and in line with the relevant treaties.
All the parties involved are working hard to bring this to a good conclusion. We see how much this issue is on people’s minds.
But underneath all this, there is an unwavering truth.
Our ties will never be broken. However high the waves may rise, the United Kingdom will remain an important partner. For the European Union. And for us as your North Sea neighbour.
So Brexit does not mean farewell. Our close, historic relationship will continue, albeit on a different footing.”
The King ended his speech with a quote by John Locke who lived in the Netherlands for five years in the 17th century.
“I have found here another fatherland, and I had almost said: other kinsmen. I call myself happy that my sojourn of these years among you has been put to such good and profitable use.”