10th throne jubilee: King Willem-Alexander in crisis?

It's a special day, even for a monarch.

10th throne jubilee: King Willem-Alexander in crisis?

It's a special day, even for a monarch. His Majesty Willem-Alexander (55), King of the Netherlands, will celebrate his tenth anniversary on April 30, 2023. Such days are generally celebrated exuberantly. But the Dutch, who are generally quite laid-back, are taking this day as an opportunity to take stock. And unfortunately it's less suitable for celebrations.

King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Máxima (51), appear to be more unpopular than ever, according to a recent survey of 28,000 Dutch people in April. According to this, only 53 percent of the subjects surveyed still trust the Dutch royal couple. In 2013, Willem-Alexander's mother and predecessor, today's Princess Beatrix (85), was still 80 percent behind the Dutch monarchy.

This poor result is made even better by Queen Máxima's better performance (59 percent). Willem-Alexander alone only gets 46 percent in the survey. What happened in the Kingdom of the Netherlands? In and of itself, the handsome Willem-Alexander, who celebrates his 56th birthday three days before the jubilee on April 27, is a popular ruler.

He is a picture of a Dutchman, 1.83 meters, around 95 kilos, studied history, former brigadier general in the Royal Air Force and trained pilot, who also flew for the Dutch airline KML and up to now 150 hours a year sometimes even in the The government jet sits in the cockpit so as not to lose the pilot's license. A reddish full beard advantageously conceals his tendency to have a double chin.

Gone are the days when the busy heir to the throne was mocked as the party king and "Prins Pilsje". King Willem-Alexander has matured into a jovial, energetic head of state who cares about the well-being of the people. The TV journalist Jeroen Snel once described it like this: "He is a statesman, a real monarch. He is tall, has good charisma and a powerful voice ... "

His wife Máxima was at times even celebrated as "the best thing about the Dutch monarchy" and embodies a very warm mother of the country. At the same time, she is Holland's No. 1 style icon. Even the writer and old left Marja Pruis praised her queen in the traditional newspaper "De Groene Amsterdammer": "She exudes sex, but healthy sex."

That was not always so. When it became known at the end of the 1990s that the then Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and the Argentine Máxima Zorreguieta, who in her list of ancestors at least had the Portuguese King Alfonso III. (1210-1279) and an Inca princess, he triggered a small state crisis. A marriage of the heir to the throne also had to be politically opportune, but most Dutch people rejected Máxima because her father Jorge Zorreguieta, as Minister of Agriculture, was a member of the notorious military dictatorship that raged in Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Willem did not let himself be dissuaded from his choice of bride, on the contrary: he signaled that if necessary he would renounce the throne in order to marry Máxima. After an intervention by then Prime Minister Wim Kok, Parliament approved the marriage in 2001.

On the occasion of the engagement, the bride, an economist and former employee of Deutsche Bank, spoke up in almost accent-free Dutch: "The Dutch people are much more warm-hearted than you would think."

In one fell swoop she had the sympathies of the people. The wedding on February 2, 2002 was celebrated as a boisterous national celebration, as was Willem-Alexander's coronation on April 30, 2013. "He wants it, he can do it, he does it! He's king," rejoiced historian and court insider Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen on ZDF.

The royal family around Willem-Alexander, who speaks German almost without an accent, developed a role model. With their daughters, the princesses Amalia (19), Alexia (17) and Ariane (16), the royal couple demonstrates an uncomplicated family life.

The German journalist and Netherlands expert Christoph Driessen saw the king as a popular ruler: "Willem-Alexander doesn't have the political ambitions of his mother, he primarily wants to connect, encourage, represent... He's more spontaneous, warmer and less grand ." However, among the thoroughly democratic Dutch, the monarchy has significantly less support than in comparable monarchies.

Willem-Alexander felt this during the Corona crisis, which of course he himself was to blame for: while the pandemic was raging around the world, the king appealed to his people to stay at home and protect themselves. He himself jetted with his family on the government plane to the holiday villa in Greece while Holland was in lockdown. That was not well received at all, and Willem and Máxima apologized in a video message: "It hurts us that we have abused your trust."

But in the summer of 2021, the family flew again to their Greek home at government expense. And in December of the same year, the royal family celebrated Crown Princess Amalia's 18th birthday in a big way, while parties for normal people were forbidden. "The social antenna of the Oranjes is not well tuned," said historian Gerard Aalders.

Apparently, the Dutch have not forgiven their king for this to this day, and the monarch is making every effort to improve the polls and show that he is close to the people. On the occasion of his throne jubilee, Willem-Alexander invited 100 Dutch people to lunch together at his palace Huis ten Bosch. It was "an affair of the heart for him. In the past ten years I have met many people who do a great job for others, for the neighborhood or for the common good. I would like to thank these people for their commitment to the Netherlands," said the king in a video message.

The whole of Holland was able to contribute to the creation of the guest list. The people were asked to nominate 100 compatriots who have done something special. "Do you immediately think of this one person, this helper in need, this lighthouse in the neighborhood, this problem solver, pacesetter, reconciler, inspirer or liaison? Then nominate this person with a short personal motivation," says the website of the palace.

Now, on April 26, the chosen few can dine together with the royal couple in the "Oranjezaal" in Huis ten Bosch. In a short video, Willem-Alexander can be seen helping with the preparations in the palace kitchen...

It is doubtful that this action will turn the lousy sympathy values ​​into something positive. However, in the said poll, only 24 percent were in favor of abolishing the monarchy. And: Trust in the king is still greater than in politics and the media of the country.