For a nation which often insists on “normal” behaviour and the following of rules, Queen’s Day is truly nothing of the sort. It’s one day of the year where the Dutch break all their self-imposed rules and let loose in a way that puts all other nations to shame. To say that Queen’s Day is the world’s greatest party is nothing short of an understatement. Put concisely as possible: Queen’s Day is epic.
If you haven’t experience the pure joviality and joy of a city flooded in Orange, I dare say you haven’t truly lived. Trying to explain Queen’s Day to someone who hasn’t experienced it is like trying to explain where babies are from to a 4-year-old. Bells sound, bands play, children perform, deals are made, bargains are found, drinks are consumed, and above all, love, laughter and smiles abound.
For a nation often divided, Queen’s Day is the great equalizer. Unlike other countries’ national day’s, April 30th is not about in-your-face patriotism or royal worshipping, it’s about oneness. Everyone can participate, everyone can partake, everyone can carve out their own way to celebrate, and everyone can do so with the simple act of throwing on an orange t-shirt and joining the gezellig crowds.
This year, the party will kick it up a notch as over 1 million visitors will join the 1 million residents to celebrate and mark the end of Queen Beatrix’s 33 year reign and the investiture of the new King Willem-Alexander. For ever more “Queen’s Day” will be a thing of the past and Koningsdag or King’s Day will be celebrated henceforth on the 27th of April (Willem’s birthday).
Is it just me that thinks it is suspiciously convenient that the King’s birthday happens to fall only 3 days away from the beloved April 30th? I don’t want to invoke a national “birther” incident here, but has someone done the research? 😉 The only logical explanation is that having a birthday at the end of April must have been a key requirement for King-dom. What would have happened if poor Willy had been a dreamy Pisces born in the gloom and doom of a cold Dutch February? Would we have been forever resigned to celebrate while shivering in the streets?
Luckily for us, April 26th will do the trick, however the transfer from Queen’s to King’s Day does lay ground for 3 pressing points which simply cannot be ignored:
1) How on earth are the drag queen’s going to celebrate King’s Day!? It must be said that dressing up as King Willem just won’t be as fun! (Unless he decides to get into big hats in a big way!) The spectacle on the streets will never be the same.
2) Koningsdags doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as nicely as Koninginnedag does. Those extra sneaky vowels make all the difference! How else can we foreigners impress you Dutchies with our skillful pronunciations? I suppose its back to Scheveningen as the shibboleth of choice.
3. The new song for the King is, well, a total farce! It’s just so hard to choose the best part of the song. The Disney-ish melody? The random mention of stamppot?? Or perhaps the various rap interludes?
Does it pain me that I will not be in town to celebrate this year’s festivities? Immensely! After celebrating seven successive Queen’s Days in my adoptive country I can tell you that on the 30th of April my blood runs as Orange as the next Dutchie’s does. But the beauty of Queen’s Day is that it as cliché as it sounds, it is a day you never forget. This Tuesday I promise to raise a bubbly orange Fanta to you my oranjegekte friends and toast to all the QD’s of the past and our KD’s of the future!