“The Netherlands traditionally has a good business climate and we want that to remain the case”, said King Willem-Alexander in this afternoon’s Troonrede (State of the Union). “That is why we will continue to invest in education, innovation and science in the coming years.”

Over the past two years, education and research have rarely been mentioned in the King’s annual speech. This year, however, the King emphasised how ‘strong’ the Netherlands is and how the government wants to make the country even stronger. A variety of subjects were addressed, from healthcare and climate to purchasing power and organised crime.

Investments in science and innovation were discussed in a passage about the ‘business climate’ for companies. The next sentences were about traffic jams and the abolition of the withholding tax on dividend.

Teacher deficit

The government also wants to do something about the ‘acute teacher shortage’. In primary education, salaries will rise and the workload will fall, the King promised on behalf of the cabinet. He also mentioned halving tuition fees in the first two years of teacher training.

Red dress

Naturally, Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven was also present in the Ridderzaal, wearing a red dress and a red diadem – not a hat – by the young Rotterdam designer Alexandra Frida.

The glass carriage bearing the King and the Queen (the golden carriage is being restored) also passed the studentenweerbaarheden. These are units of student troops which stand in uniform along the route. Not all the units were allowed to come this year, according to the presenter from the national broadcasting company, because they didn’t all have a uniform. Last year they wore suits, but that’s no longer allowed.

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