Royalty and statesmen




Crown Princess Maxima and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander join Queen Beatrix on the balcony of the government buildings. The royal party were cheered by huge crowds of well-wishers as they made their way from the royal palace to the Hall of Knights
Photo: AFP
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The future king and queen wave to their fans. After he accedes to the throne it will fall to Willem-Alexander to give the speech each year
Photo: Rex



Queen Beatrix made an appropriately regal entrance when she turned out to give a speech in Holland's government buildings this week. In keeping with long-held tradition, the monarch arrived at the historic Hall of Knights in the centre of The Hague in a golden horse-drawn carriage.

Every year on the third Tuesday of September the people of the Netherlands celebrate Prince's Day, when the reigning sovereign outlines the government's plans for the year ahead. And the country's head-of-state was accompanied by her son and heir, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, and his enormously popular wife Maxima, when she arrived to do her duty this time around.

After she had delivered her closing words, the gathered politicians, civil servants and dignitaries joined together in three loud cheers of "long live the queen". Their enthusiastic applause could not match the roar of approval that met the royal party when they stepped out onto one of the building's balconies to acknowledge members of the public who had gathered outside, though.

The Prince's Day celebrations date back to the 18th century when a holiday was declared to mark Prince William V's birthday. These event is now used to present budgetary plans for the coming year, but despite its more pragmatic significance, it has lost none of its pomp and glory.

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