Every year on the 27th of April, the Dutch celebrate their national holiday. This day, more exactly in 1967, was King Willem-Alexander’s day of birth, making The Netherlands together with Thailand the only two countries in the world where the head of state’s birthday is a national holiday.
Usually, on King’s day the Dutch would go on the street, to sing the national anthem (Wilhelmus van Nassouwe), to sell their old rubbish at the vrijmarkt and to play games. The royal family would visit one of the Dutch cities to celebrate together with the locals and to tighten tires with the region. But for this year, due to well-known reasons, all of this won’t be possible. Instead of Koningsdag (King’s Day), there will be Woningsdag (Home Day).
So, for the opportunity, let’s invite ourselves into the King’s own home. Knot your tie or put on your high heels (or don’t if that makes you feel more at ease, the Dutch king wouldn’t mind) and follow us on a tour through the Dutch royal palaces.
Royal palace Amsterdam
The palace at the Dam square in Amsterdam was built in the early 17th century as town hall for Amsterdam. It is amply decorated with artworks referring to the classical antiquity, which display the power and wealth of Amsterdam in the so-called Golden Age.
In 1808, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who was made king of Holland by his well-known brother, got the building to be his palace. Since then, there hase been a royal palace in Amsterdam. It is only used by the king for official events, like as the abdication of the former queen in 2013 and the annual new year’s receptions.
Note: if you are viewing this on a small screen e.g. smartphone, you will see the best pictures when you turn your device into landscape orientation.
For a closer view into the palace, you should definitely visit their YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHrcGp5Fu2MQp3NDUE8aFJw
Het Loo Palace
Paleis Het Loo is a palace in Apeldoorn (in the forest-rich region called Veluwe in the East of the Netherlands), which was built by the Dutch stadtholder William III in the 1690s. William, who together with his spouse Mary was also King of England, Scotland and Ireland, wanted to express his power by building a palace inspired by Louis XIV’s Château de Versailles. The interior was designed by the French-born architect Daniel Marot and the garden by the French landscape architect André le Nôtre.
The last resident of the palace was Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962). After her decease, the palace was renovated into is original state in order to be used as a museum. Also, the impressive garden was reconstructed, with its symmetric flowerbeds and hedges, sculpture galleries and huge fountains.
What is now known as the city of The Hague, started in the Late Middle Ages as a cluster of manor houses around the Count of Holland’s residence. One of those manor houses was obtained by Frederick Henry of Orange, William the Silent’s son, in 1620. He had it transformed and extended by Jacob van Campen, who also was the architect of the townhall/palace in Amsterdam.
In 1813, at the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the house was destined to be the king’s winter palace. It had this function untill 1980, when Beatrix became queen. She decided to live at Huis ten Bosch, near The Hague, and use the Noordeinde Palace as “working palace”. From then, the palace housed offices of the royal household and was used for many audiences. It also is the place for ceremonies like the king’s departure with the Golden Coach to the annual opening of parliament (Prinsjesdag) on the third Tuesday of September.
Huis ten Bosch
Huis ten Bosch literally means “house in the woods” and is named after the Haagse Bos, a wood located near The Hague. Here in 1645, Amalia van Solms, spouse of the Dutch stadtholder Frederick Henry of Orange, decided to have a country house built. During the construction period, her husband died. She decided to make the house a place of remembrance for him. The central hall in the palace, called Oranjezaal, was entirely decorated with paintings showing an allegory of the life and heroic efforts of Frederick Henry.
During the Napoleonic era, the house was used for different purposes subsequently, e.g. as a prison, a museum and a residence for inhabitants of Leiden who got homeless after the gunpowder disaster of 1810.
After Napoleon’s defeat, the house came into possession of the state. Queen Beatrix was the first to use Huis ten Bosch as her residential palace. After she abdicated in favour of her son, Willem-Alexander, the palace was fully renovated. One of the rooms, now called the DNA-salon, was decorated with a mosaic displaying King Willem-Alexander’s and Queen Máxima’s genetic profile.
One wing of Huis ten Bosch is used as private residence to Willem-Alexander, Máxima and their daughters, the other is used by the king for doing his work, having audiences and (outside corona times) state banquets.
Happy King’s day! God save the King and each of you!