Every year, on the third Tuesday of September, the Dutch monarch rides from Palace Noordeinde to the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) in the Binnenhof. This day is called the “Prinsjesdag” and it’s one of the biggest events of the year in The Hague.
(© expatsincebirth: Prinsjesdag 2013: Gouden Koets with King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima)
The occasion is prescribed by the constitution, article 65 of which states:
A statement of the policy to be pursued by the Government shall be given by or on behalf of the King before a joint session of the two Houses of the States-General that shall be held every year on the third Tuesday in September or on such earlier date as may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.
At the stroke of one (at exactly 13:00) the King, accompanied by other members of the royal family, will depart from Noordeinde Palace in a procession along a given route (see here below) along the Lange Voorhout. Alongside the Lange Voorhout will be erected different stands offering a view at the golden carriage.
Once the procession arrives at the Binnenhof, where members of both chambers of Parliament will be present, a Troonrede “Speech from the Throne” is read. “In his capacity of (formal) head of the Government he announces the plans for the new parliamentary year. The King’s Speech is not written by the King, but by the Prime Minister and the cabinet.” (wikipedia)
Some of the major issues the Parliament will have to address during the first following sessions will be mentioned overtly and “the crown will then ask for cooperation among the chambers to work toward a resolution of those issues. When the speech is given, the new session of Parliament is considered officially started, and the monarch returns to Palace Noordeinde“.
When the Speech is finished, the speaker of the Senate proclaims “Lang leve de koning!” (“Long live the King!”) which is answered by everyone present with “Hoera! Hoera! Hoera!”: This brings an end to the joint session of the two houses. The ushers escort the King and members of the Royal House to the door. The president then closes the session.
The golden carriage will return the same route and pass through Lange Voorhout around 14:00, followed by a short appearance of the royal family on the balcony of Noordeinde Palace.
This year it will be the first time for the new King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima to make their first ride in the “Gouden Koets” (the golden carriage).
The history of Prinsjesdag
Prinsjesdag was originally celebrated in the 18th century on the 8th of March, the birthday of Prince William V. It was one of the country’s most popular public holidays. Between 1780 and 1797 (the “Patriot era” which lead up to the Batavian revolution) at Prinsjesdag “was used to demonstrations of loyalty to the House of Orange, which is probably why the current name was chosen in the 19th century for the ceremonial opening of parliament”.
The constitution has stated that the opening of parliament should take place on a fixed date. “The opening of parliament was originally held on the first Monday in November in the first half of the 19th century”. Later it sllipped to the the third Monday in October and when a “constitutional revision introduced annual budgets in 1848, more time was needed to debate the budget, so the date was brought forward a month. Monday was considered inappropriate, because many parliamentarians in distant parts of the country needed to leave their homes on Sunday to make it to The Hague in time, so an 1887 revision moved Prinsjesdag to Tuesday”. (cfr. ibidem wikipedia)
“Throughout the years 1815 to 1904, the speech from the throne was given in the assembly room of the House of Representatives, but was moved back to the Hall of Knights after an extensive restoration of the building at the start of the 20th century.”
If you are in The Hague these days, don’t miss other related events (cfr. courtesy of southholland.angloinfo.com):
- Sun, 15 Sept 16:00: Prinsjes Concert by the New Dutch Academy at Haagse en Friese Hof.
- Mon, 16 Sept 20:15: Prinsjes Caberet at Theater Diligentia (Lange Voorhout)
- Tue, 17 Sept 15:00: Prinsjes Guided Shopping Tour (city center)
- Tue, 17 Sept 20:15: Prinsjes Drinks at Super Markt (Grote Markt)