The coronavirus restrictions currently in force will be relaxed on Saturday. After that day, students will be allowed to convene in large numbers in lecture theatres again, and more people will be allowed inside the Grote Kerk as well. However, on Tuesday the restrictions were still in force.


The King began his speech with a short list of things about which ‘many’ are concerned, such as the housing market, nitrogen emissions, the rule of law and equality of opportunity in the education sector and in the labour market.

The education sector was briefly mentioned when the King expressed his gratitude to all sorts of people who continued working during the various lockdowns, such as all medical practitioners, police officers and special investigations officers, soldiers and ‘people working in the education sector and in childcare’.

Lastly, he briefly touched on the way the coronavirus crisis has impacted the lives of young people: “After living life with the handbrake on for a year and a half, many young people and young adults will face a false or delayed start to their studies or careers.”


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King Willem-Alexander mentioned that for the period leading up to year-end 2023, the Cabinet has reserved more than €8 billion to fight educational disadvantage during the pandemic. The Cabinet did so ‘in anticipation of choices for the long term that must be made soon’.

Necessary choices

He did not explain what these necessary choices are. He may have been referring to additional funding to be awarded to lecturers and researchers, or possibly to the reintroduction of student grants – something students and politically minded young people demanded attention for yesterday.

The King barely mentioned additional funding for scientific projects, although he did mention the National Growth Fund, which will distribute €20 billion over the next five years to strengthen the Dutch economy and knowledge economy. “This year, in the first round, we awarded about 4 billion euros”, said King Willem-Alexander. Among other things, the funding was awarded to infrastructure companies and projects ‘related to artificial intelligence and green hydrogen’.

It should be noted that the King does not write the annual speech himself. The Cabinet does so for him. The King’s only task is to read it out loud.