You might have wondered, especially on kingsday, why the Dutch are such big fans of the colour orange. The answer can, unsurprisingly, be found whilst examining the royal family. Of course our royal family does not have the splendour of our British neighbours, nor the long line of our Danish friends, but the history is quite interesting. So let’s begin.
To begin with the colour orange. Way, way, way back, in 1533, a little boy called Willem was born. He would later become the prince of Orange, a little village in France. Though his family was called Nassau, he would henceforth be known as Willem of Orange. Now, a natural guess would be that he was our first king, but that would be wrong. Willem of Orange was a fierce supporter of autonomous democracy, considering that at the time, we (Protestants) were occupied by the Catholic Spanish. We eventually won the war, but lost Willem in the process. We became a republic. Only after 5 other stadholders (leaders of the Dutch republic), most of whom were also called Willem (because why not?) did we get a king again. Napoleon had just been beaten and power was handed to Willem I. After him came Willem II, then Willem III and then the royal family ran out of sons… which is where things start to get interesting.
Wilhelmina (how did they come up with that name?!) succeeded her father Willem III, in lack of sons. Her reign continued until just after the second world war, in which the royal family and part of the government fled to England. Despite this, the royal family, especially Wilhelmina, continued to support their people through an illegal radio station called Radio Orange. Wilhelmina is most well known for her inspiring speeches, given over the radio to encourage the Dutch people to stand up and help their fellow countrymen. Wilhelmina abdicates in 1948 for her only daughter Juliana to continue. Juliana is most well known for her marriage to her cheating, illegitimate-children-making husband, Bernhard. Bernhard was German and had become a part of the Nazi-party. Many of his relatives were high up in the army, and even he was a member of a mounted unit of the SS. This was, of course, not very much appreciated by the Dutch, what with being occupied by the Germans. Later Bernhard would get involved with numerous affairs and, as I mentioned, illegitimate-children-making, which made him even less popular. Juliana and Bernhard had 4 daughters and the eldest, Beatrix, was inaugurated in 1980.
Beatrix had found love in a German called Claus. As you might have gathered, at that time, we were not a big fan of our eastern neighbours, which is way the relation was kept secret. Or at least, until the release of a scandalous picture, in which Beatrix and Claus are seen walking hand in hand in the royal gardens. The picture brought on a fierce debate, as it turned out that Claus was in the Hitler Youth and had been in the Wehrmacht during the war. Despite the protests and demonstrations on their wedding day, the pair were happily married. Strangely and quite unlike both her mother and grandmother, the pair had three sons. The expectation was that Claus would be just like his father in low, but he proved everyone wrong. He gained popularity through the years, as he made himself strong for numerous causes. His death, in 2002, was mourned by many. Beatrix, with her famous hairdo, continued to reign until 2013, when her son Willem Alexander took over.
Willem Alexander, the forth king named Willem, has now been king for almost 7 years and so far, so good. He married Maxima, a Argentinian woman, who has charmed the Netherlands and gained popularity fast, like Claus. Together they have three lovely daughters, continuing the curse of having only girls. The eldest, Amalia, is the heir-apparent and will take over whenever her father is sick of being king.
Concluding, this blog has hopefully explained our obsession with orange and a bit of our royal family. It might not be perfect, but we couldn’t wish for anyone else.
Eline van der Peet