It’s been one humble selfless year of papal resignation and queenly abdication1 with fixed tenures bumped in favour of well-received successions. So what will you give up to the applause of the world around you? What noble act will cause you royal pains for therein lies the definition of sacrifice? Here in The Netherlands, I needed to see first-hand what sacrifices Queen Beatrix’s legacy and King Willem-Alexander’s enthronement had inspired.
I hit the streets on this last Queen’s Day, to see what my fellow Hagenaars were up to. Mind you, I’m not a journalist, for the official version, watch CNN.
Our national flag stood at attention on masts protruding from the first-floor walls of most houses. The flags caught the wind that brought the change and waved gaily at onlookers and passers-by. Orange buntings completed the look, which stopped short of the madness (oranjegekte) that engulfed the streets during the 2012 UEFA Euro championships. That year, endless lines of orange buntings crisscrossed the streets running from one house to the next.
In support of the royal house of Oranje, everyone donned something orange. Orange wigs, orange hats, orange tees, orange skin, orange leg warmers, orange sun glasses, orange scarves, orange pants, orange balloons, orange inflatable crowns, a sea of orange broken by the green bottles of merry revellers. And they were quite a few, staggering, whistling, and taking a very public pee in honour of King Willem-Alexander. Beer flowed in abundance and although it cost around two Euros a bottle, VAT remained 21%. With solidarity so strong, what else could the new king ask for?
Dancers aka modern-day court jesters. Nothing shows the true state of the heart like the carefree, uninhibited movements of hands, hips, and legs wobbling in tipsy land. Beatrix was a good queen; Willem-Alexander will be a good king the gyrations seemed to say. Perhaps because it was late in the evening, after the controversial koningslied had been sung, street parties showcased English music and foreign dance moves.
Echoes of an inebriated crowd singing Sweet Home Alabama faded in the distance as I walked home and pondered what all this portends for the new king. The sun must approve because it shone until it chased the coolness of a 13ºC spring day away and held the rain at bay.
Now that we’ve packed our Oranje paraphernalia until next year, pray tell me, whether you live in The Netherlands or not, what are you giving up in honour of a greater good that’ll cause you royal pains?
©Timi Yeseibo 2013
1. Quote from Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu, Facebook Timeline photo, 30/4/2013.
2. Image credits:
Royal family photo: http://www.koninklijkhuis.nl
Undutchables Recruitment photo: https://www.undutchables.nl/
Street Flags photo: http://www.nlplanet.com/
Koninginnedag photo: http://www.holland.com/
Unattributed photos: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013
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