Last night, Queen Beatrix announced her abdication after 33 years of ruling the Netherlands. Crown prince Willem-Alexander will officially become king later this year on April 30. “Having a royal family can be a great symbol for a country”, says Badressaono Skamkam (36), an IBA student from Morocco, “it is about much more than politics.”

The change in ruling may not seem like a big chance, but the practical changes are already apparent. For instance, Queensday (in Dutch: Koninginnedag), which is one of the Netherlands biggest holidays celebrating the previous Queens birthday, has been celebrated for over 60 years on April 30th. However, this day will be moved to April 27th, and will be re-named Kingsday (in Dutch: Koningsdag) which will celebrate the soon to be crowned King Willem-Alexander’s birthday.

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The Netherlands is amongst the oldest monarchies across the globe. However, many international students are from countries ruled by presidents or prime ministers. “Many of my friends posted articles about the Dutch royal family”, highlights Zaikyue Yu (20), an IBA student from China. Luka Schröder (22), an IBEB student, also found out about the abdication through several social media channels. “I even saw that Queen Beatrix and her speech were trending topic Twitter yesterday” says Luka Schröder, “not just in the Netherlands but worldwide!”

Queen, King, president or prime minster?

“For me it was hard to fully grasp what all the fuzz was about on Facebook regarding the Queen”, explains Yu, “I am from China and our political system works very different than the one here in the Netherlands.” Skamkam agrees and although she finds it hard to understand what the change in ruling means for Dutch citizens, she can relate. “I grew up in Morocco and to me the King of Morocco is a symbol for my nation”, explains Skamkam, “I cannot imagine that he would announce his abdication and that symbol would change.”

Tradition is good

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century the Netherlands has an independent monarch. “Keeping the traditional Dutch monarchy in place is important”, emphasizes Schröder, “Beatrix has dealt with several national as well as personal crises and they create a sense of unity amongst the people.”

Royalties hold no power

That the Netherlands will have a king again as of later this year, is the first time since the late nineteenth century. “Of course it is a big deal that Queen Beatrix announced her abdication”, emphasizes Skamkam, “but it does not matter which royalty holds the crown, nothing much will be changing.” It is neither Queen Beatrix nor the soon to be crowned King Willem-Alexander who hold the power in the Netherlands. In the end it is the parliament which makes decisions and holds all the power, says Skamkam. NdB