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Basic Dutch: A Royal ABC

Direct Dutch Daily presents a Royal ABC that might help you in grasping, discussing or (preferably) joining King’s Day. (Note: This article was written in 2013, the year of the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the inauguration of Koning Willem-Alexander on April 30th.)


Allochtoon (Immigrant; anyone with at least one parent born outside the Netherlands)
Just like about one fifth of his subjects, our new King Willem Alexander is an allochtoon. Being the son of a German father (Prins Claus) and a half Dutch, half German mother (Prinses Beatrix), he is just as much an allochtoon as his Argentinian wife (Koningin Maxima) and his three daughters (see Triple A) who are for merely one eighth part autochtoon Dutch.

After a reign of 33 years, we are sorry to say goodbye to our Queen and proud to honour our present King in our ABC.

Ceremonie (ceremony)
While politicians are arguing whether the role of the modern monarch should be merely ceremonial, we would like to link the term to the grand inauguration ceremony in Amsterdam.

Inaccessibly busy area in Amsterdam. See ‘Nieuwe Kerk’.

Elf Stedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour)
In 1986, our future king decided to join the Tocht der Tochten (Tour of Tours, a 200 kilometer long skating competition spanning eleven Frisian cities).

Feest! (Party!)
Just make sure you don’t miss it.

Gracht (Canal)
In 2012 at the Amsterdam City Swim, a campaign to raise money for more research on the muscle disease ASL, Maxima, dressed in a wetsuit, happily jumped into the gracht.

Hermelijn (Ermine)
The Partij van de Dieren (Party for the Animals) was not happy with Willem Alexander wearing fur lined robes during his inauguration.

Internationale gasten (International guests)
The guestlist for the inauguration was a mystery up to the day of the inauguration.

Juliaantje (Our Little Juliana)
Willem Alexander’s grandmother, Koningin Juliana, earned her nickname by her personal, empathetic style of reigning the Netherlands. Unlike her businesslike daughter Beatrix, she drove a bike, dressed like an ordinary woman in public and refused to be called ‘majesteit’ by her subjects.

Koningsdag (King’s Day)
Willem Alexander decided to call the annual festivities Koningsdag. Just like Koninginnedag, this day will be celebrated by vlooienmarkten (flea markets), people dressing themselves in orange outfits and doing stupid games such as zaklopen.

Leve de Koning! (Long live the King!)
The Dutch love to cheer: “Oranje boven, Oranje boven, Leve de Koning!”

In 2009, the princely couple invested in a holiday resort in Mozambique. After a swirl of public indignation about the morality of building a luxury resort in this poor country the couple sold the resort.

Nieuwe Kerk

The inauguration ceremony was held in The Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam.

Last name of the royals ever since Willem van Nassau, later the Vader des Vaderlands, inherited the title Prins van Oranje when his cousin Renee van Chalon died in 1544.

Prins Pils (Prince Beer)
Willem Alexander’s nickname while studying history in Leiden.

Quatsch (Humbug)
Het Republikeins Genootschap (Republic Society) thinks the whole monarchy thing is outdated, expensive and simply quatsch. If you agree, join their protest by wearing white in stead of orange on April 30. If not, wear orange.

Republikeinen (Republicans)
See Quatsch

To celebrate Alex’s love of sports, all Dutch primary schools are invited to organise their own Koningsspelen (King’s Games), a national sports day on April 26.

Triple A
Said to be Alexander’s nickname for his three daughters Amalia, Alexia and Ariana.

When addressing our future king or queen never say “je” or “jij,” always say “u.”

Vlooienmarkt (Flee market)
See Koningsdag. One of the biggest vlooienmarkten in the Netherlands will be held in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Willem-Alexander, Alexander, or Alex for friends, quite purposefully chose to reign under his double first name, distancing himself from his predecessors:
– Willem I (1772 – 1843)
– Willem II (1792 – 1849)
– Willem III (1817 – 1890)

Even before the turn of the millennium, the Dutch had been speculating on the readiness of Willem-Alexander, and when date X for the abdication would take place. And yet, when the queen made the announcement on January 28, 2013, it came as a great surprise.

’t IJ (Water in Amsterdam)
Straight after the inauguration, the newly crowned King and Queen took a boat tour across ‘t IJ.

Zaklopen (Bag walking)
Traditional race involving jute bags and clumsy hopping, very popular at Queen’s and soon-to-be King’s Day festivities.

By Marloes van Rooijen