Click here to send this news item to a friend If there's one day in the Dutch royal calendar that Crown Prince Willem-Alexander would be loath to miss, it would surely be Prinsjesdag, or Prince's Day as it is known in English. And the huge crowds that gathered outside Noordeinde Palace on Tuesday weren't disappointed, as their future king and his wife Maxima both stepped out onto the balcony of the Renaissance building to join in the celebrations. The crown prince, dressed in uniform, joined his mother Queen Beatrix to acknowledge the cheers of well-wishers. Maxima, who looked elegant in a burnt orange jacket with matching hat, was seen laughing and joking heartily with her husband.

Prince's Day, one of the most important fixtures in the Dutch royal calendar, is roughly comparable to the Queen's Speech in Britain. Each year on the third Tuesday of September The Hague is transformed into a scene of lavish pomp and glory as the country's monarch addresses a joint sitting of the Parliament and Senate.

After taking time to wave to fans from the balcony of her home, the monarch travels through the city in a golden coach. Military salutes ring out at one-minute intervals throughout the 30-minute journey until the sovereign arrives at the historic Hall of Knights to make her speech. Once inside, however, a hush falls over the hall as the Queen reflects on the last 12 months and outlines her government's policies for the year ahead.

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Photo: ©
Crown Princess Maxima joins her husband, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, for the traditional wave from the balconyPhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
Like her daughter-in-law Maxima, Queen Beatrix has a reputation for her elegant taste in millinery. She donned a striking blue hat for the annual speech, outlining plans for the year ahead Photo: © AFP
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