Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Dawn of a New Orange King

Sometimes there is no such thing as a befitting introduction. Words fail to convey what the heart feels, the eyes see and the ears hear. So one must submit to one’s inadequacy and write on. This in short was what April 30th in The Kingdom of The Netherlands felt like- ecstasy, festivity, hope, melancholy, togetherness, unity and above all, the Dutch people’s love for the Royal Family. It was visible and audible in the air, the streets and canals of Amsterdam and the city’s beautifully decorated squares.
The bright colors of the House of Orange where the Dutch Royal Family hail from was what draped the city of Amsterdam and all its mazes, passages, alleys, houses and buildings.
The city’s party-loving, opinioned and somewhat eccentric citizens were already partying the night before even as last minute arrangements and security were being looked into; orange was the color- including garbage cans, the trash in it, and every imaginable paraphernalia that the world has been privy to whenever the Dutch Football team makes it to the European or the World Cups were in ample display around the picturesque city of canals- recently honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was one heck of an ‘Orange’ day. After thirty three years, Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of the Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. The Netherlands has had three successive queens leading up to the abdication. The beloved queen, highly revered and respected for the way she has reigned over the three decades, bid an emotional farewell the night before the coronation. But then that further added to the emotions leading up to the next day’s crowning change.
Unlike Bhutan, there are is no handing over of a crown. The Queen signed the abdication and the investiture of her son Willem-Alexander in the presence of the Royal Family, Senate, and Members of Parliament on the morning of the biggest celebration in honor of their monarchs, that particular day being her last Queen’s Day, celebrated to mark their monarchs’ birthdays. From here on the Queen’s Day becomes the King’s Day with the familiar date of April 30th changing to April 27th, the new king’s birthday. That was it. Willem-Alexander became the first king of The Netherlands since 1890 on Tuesday, ascending a throne largely stripped of political power but still invested with enormous symbolic significance for the Dutch people.
His Argentine wife, Princess Maxima is now the Queen and of their three daughters, the eldest, Catharina-Amalia, is the Crown Princess of Orange. Her two younger sisters are princess Alexia and Ariane.
The way the children conducted themselves in what was a highly charged and massively publicized event was well observed and admired by the local press and the media in general.
The formalities were also highly charged with emotion as the queen described the “love and support of her people” and the best decision she had ever made, marrying her husband, Prince Claus. He died in 200. She added that the decision was made to make way for a new generation under a new monarch. “"Some moments ago I abdicated from the throne. I am happy and thankful to present to you your new king," said Beatrix, 75, who retired after 33 years in the role, following in the tradition of her mother and grandmother. She now takes the title of princess.
The signing, oaths of loyalty and the swearing in ceremonies were held in the historic Palace at the Dam in the center of Amsterdam. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked in from all over the country, together with a large number of visitors and the press at the Dam Square, watching an historic transition take place on giant screens installed at The Dam and other public avenues all across the canal city and the rest of the country.
"I take office in a period when many in the kingdom feel vulnerable or uncertain. Vulnerable in their job or in their health, uncertain about their income or their immediate environment," Willem-Alexander said at his inauguration, attended by crown princes and princesses and other dignitaries.
Opinions from young and old alike were of a joyous reflection. “Queen Beatrix has been an outstanding example. I hope our new king will live up to the standard she has set so consistently over the last thirty three years,” said Tom De Kok, an Amsterdammer. “We have had only queens so I am looking forward to a king. He is a nice looking person with a lovely family,” said Susanne Kuiken, who had just arrived in Amsterdam from the north-east of the country.
"I want to establish ties, make connections and exemplify what unites us, the Dutch people," the freshly minted king said at a nationally televised investiture ceremony in Amsterdam's 600-year-old New Church, held before the combined houses of the Dutch Parliament.
"As king, I can strengthen the bond of mutual trust between the people and their government maintain our democracy and serve the public interest."
Hopes for the new monarch are high.
But Dutch people are anything but lax. An Amsterdam resident, Jorge Bosman, said he doubted Willem-Alexander's investiture would give the country much of an employment boost.
"Well, at least he is employed," he said. "I think he is just like his mum, he is honest, casual and wants to do a lot for his people I and out of the country," said Donny Julian, attired in orange dungarees and walking hurriedly towards the Dam.
The general feeling as I spoke to different people was one of hope, change and renewal in their new king and a feeling of reminiscence as the subject would invariably shift over to his mother, Queen Beatrix. The one constant and consistent opinion was the natural beauty of his wife, Queen Maxima and her easy going and attractive nature. When they met, she was Maxima Zorreguieta, an economist. “Although she comes from Argentina, she has integrated well into Dutch culture. She has mastered the language, is extremely social, carries herself beautifully and does a lot of philanthropy and it feels good to know we’ll have such a beautiful and likeable queen representing the Dutch,” said Sasha, a young apprentice helping foreign press personnel with logistics.
Queen Maxima has been on the front pages of the media back in her native land. An Argentine paper had this telling headline: “We now have the Pope, Messi and Queen Maxima.”
It’s the day after, May 1st, a sunny day and although in most of Europe its Labor Day, a public holiday, the Dutch are back at work, no doubt with a lot of hangover and looking forward to the reign of their new king and queen, Donald Coyne, an American Artist from California with Dutch connections put it best when he said, “the sun’s shining and I’ve dubbed it the first day of the Sun-King’s reign of sunshine in what is generally a gray and windy country.”
I couldn’t agree more. The sun is a luxury here. Having had some Dutch connection in the form of an eleven year old boy whose mother is Dutch, it was a moment that got to me. That is what mass-joy is capable of. The fact that they show their love for their royal family in that most typical of Dutch ways by donning outrageous costumes with Orange the dominant color exhibits what is also very seriously felt deep in their hearts. It’s a time of extreme economic recession where more Dutch people are out of work, jobless, unemployed and on welfare than ever in recent memory. But on April 30th, as popular slogans screamed from everywhere, it was the day “we celebrate the crowning of a new king; god bless the new king.” Not to be outdone, local entrepreneurs selling orange paraphernalia, such as the ubiquitous orange crowns had this tantalizing tag: “buy a crow and become a king for a day.”
The day was indeed a king’s day as almost everyone seems to walk around either with orange crowns, hats, cowboy-hats and the like.
In a city filled with graffiti art with museums boasting of works from some of the world’s most well known artists, it was apt that the new day was also celebrated with the opening of the restored Van Gogh Museum. “Thank you for the wonderful years Beatrix, and congratulations to the new king”- read another flyer pasted on mailboxes.
It could not have been more Dutch than that. To conclude, it was a coronation without any untoward incident. And a celebration of a carnival nature that only the Dutch can demonstrate in that most unique of ways which sets apart this little kingdom in Europe’s southern flatlands.
If you go by the color, the future seems bright; the future seems orange.
As I end this, the setting Amsterdam sun has more than a hint and a hue of that color- it’s completely orange.
Going Dutch:
·        The “investiture,” as it’s known in Holland, is different from other traditional coronations as the new monarch is not actually crowned. Rather, the crown, a scepter and the royal apple are placed on the “credence table,” together with a copy of the Constitution.
·        Willem-Alexander became the first king of the Netherlands since 1890 on Tuesday, ascending a throne largely stripped of political power but still invested with enormous symbolic significance for the Dutch people.
·        Willem Alexander's popularity has been steadily rising since his 2002 marriage to an Argentine commoner, Maxima Zorreguieta.
·        In an interview shortly before his accession, Willem-Alexander turned in a relaxed performance, saying he will not be a "protocol fetishist," but a king who puts his people at ease.
·        Around 25,000 supporters thronged Amsterdam's central Dam Square Tuesday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new king or the departing 75-year-old queen, now known as Princess Beatrix.
·        Millions more watched on television as King Willem-Alexander, wearing a fur-trimmed ceremonial mantle, swore an oath of allegiance to the country and the constitution.
·        Earlier, the new king gripped his mother's hand and looked briefly into her eyes after they both signed the abdication document in the Royal Palace on Dam Square.
·        At 46, King Willem-Alexander is the youngest monarch in Europe and the first Dutch King in 123 years. Like Beatrix before him, Willem-Alexander has assumed the throne at a time of social strains and economic disquiet.
·        Although the Dutch monarchy is largely ceremonial, he immediately staked out a course to preserve its relevance in the 21st century.

·        Willem-Alexander - who is a water management specialist, a useful expertise in a country where much of the land is below sea level - and his wife Maxima, a former investment banker from Argentina, are expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy at a time of national austerity and budget cuts.

Houses were covered in bunting and flags and shop windows were stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers.
·        An estimated 25,000 people, the majority dressed in orange or wearing orange wigs, hats, feather boas and crowns, amassed in Dam Square next to the Royal Palace to watch the abdication and inauguration broadcast live all over the country.
·        Willem-Alexander wore a royal mantle decorated with silver lions that has been used for investitures since 1815, although it has been repaired and altered at least twice over the past century, for the investitures of his mother and grandmother.
·        In accordance with tradition, he was not formally crowned because in the absence of a state church, there is no cleric available to carry out the coronation. Instead, the crown and other jewels sat on a table beside him throughout the ceremony.
·        Queen Maxima wore a tiara and a full-length royal blue dress and cloak that Dutch media reported was designed by Jan Taminiau, a Dutch designer. The ceremony was attended by Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, by Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako and other royal family members from around Europe and Asia.
·        Like their counterparts in Britain and Sweden, the Dutch royals are broadly popular; 78 percent of Dutch are in favor of the monarchy- up from 74 percent a year ago, according to a poll.

Royal Changes:
1. Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) will become Koningsdag (King’s Day) and will be moved from 30th April to 27th April (the birthday of King Willem-Alexander), unless this date happens to fall on a Sunday (as is it will in 2014).

2. Princess Maxima will enjoy the title of Queen. Whilst the husbands of Beatrix, Juliana and Wilhelmina all had to make do with the title of Prince Consort.  As of 30th April, Máxima will be known as Koningin Máxima (Queen Máxima), Prinses der Nederlanden (Princess of the Netherlands), Prinses van Oranje-Nassau (Princess of Orange-Nassau). She will not, however, become a Staatshoofd (head of state) as that particular honor is reserved exclusively for King Willem-Alexander.

3. Princess Catharina-Amalia will become the new kroonprinses (Crown Princess). Following the coronation, the eldest daughter of Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima will be known as Prinses van Oranje (Princess of Orange).

4. Dutch stamps and coins will feature a portrait of King Willem-Alexander. Incidentally, this won’t apply to 1 or 2 cent coins as these denominations are no longer minted in the Netherlands. And the country is likely to be awash with typical Dutch products, souvenirs and orange merchandize emblazoned with pictures of the new Dutch King and Queen.

The Butch (Bhutanese-Dutch) Connection:
Bhutan-Netherlands Annual Consultation Meeting:

The fourth and the final Bhutan-Netherlands Annual Consultation Meeting for the 10th FYP is to be held on 11th July, 2012 in Bumthang. The annual consultation meeting is being conducted as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Kingdom of The Netherlands in August 2008.
As per the MoU, The Netherlands Government committed Euro 10 million in the form of General Budget Support. The Netherlands will base the actual support on the progress attained in the implementation of the 10th FYP. Progress will be measured through the agreed performance indicators related to the following two themes:
i.            Transition towards Parliamentary Democracy and Local Governance and
ii.            Human Resources Development with a focus on Health and Education
For the effective implementation of the program, the two Governments had agreed to meet on an annual basis to discuss the implementation progress of the 10th Plan. During this annual consultations, the RGoB, represented by the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) will present a concise overview of the progress in the above two areas, based on indicators submitted at the start of the 10th plan. Therefore, in the meeting on 11th July, the presentations have been made on the status of 10th Plan key targets for central agencies and local governance by GNHC, status of HRD implementation by RCSC and status of local governance at the indicator level by Department of Local Governance.
The meeting was jointly chaired by Secretary, GNHC and H.E Ambassador Bob Hiensch. The formal diplomatic relations between the kingdoms of the Netherlands and Bhutan was established in 1985. Long before the inception of this formal diplomatic tie, Bhutan received Dutch assistance through multilateral agencies as early as 1974.
The total contribution of Euros 10,000,000 will in principle be transferred in five installments of two million Euros (EUR 2,000,000) annually. As of date, we have received four installments amounting to Euro 8 million and the final installment of Euro 2 million will be transferred very shortly.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother Visits The Netherlands
May 18, 2007
Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck, launched a photo book exhibit in the Netherlands earlier this month. The exhibition entitled 'Simply Bhutan', features photographs taken by Ms Justina Han from the Netherlands.

Their Royal Highnesses Ashi Euphelma Choden Wangchuck and Prince Ugyen Jigme Wangchuck also attended the exhibition.
The photographs are images from Justina Han’s book, which is dedicated to the people of Bhutan for welcoming her with grace.  

Queen of Bhutan: The Tulip
The newest Dutch tulip to be named ‘Queen of Bhutan’: a tulip with deep red petals edged with golden yellow. The tulip symbolizes the friendship and longstanding relation between the Netherlands and Bhutan, and reflects besides the national colors of Bhutan, Her Majesty’s personality: “warm and kind in heart and mind”.
Erica Terpstra and Henk de Jong (Bhutan+partners) revealed the new tulip, produced in the Netherlands by FLUWEL at a special occasion during the Bhutan Day at the Florida, The US, in 2012.
The tulip was revealed at the Florida World Stage Theatre in the presence of the special envoy of the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonpo Dago Tshering, the Ambassador of Bhutan to the EU in Brussels, His Excellency Sonam Tshong, the Florida 2012 General Director, Mr. Paul Beck and many other distinguished guests, friends of Bhutan and Bhutanese students.
Mrs. Erica Terpstra explained that the tulip selected by Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan, Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, also reflects her character as expressed by his Majesty the King of Bhutan: ‘warm and kind in heart and mind’. The Queen of Bhutan tulip will soon be launched in Bhutan and will be available at the Gardeners’ shop of Mrs. Tshering Yanki at the Centenary Market in Thimphu.

Bhutan + Partners

'Keeping in touch with Bhutan seemed natural' is the slogan behind this organization.

Bhutan+partners was founded in 2002 by Henk de Jong, after his term as SNV country director in Bhutan. Henk experienced his years working and living in Bhutan as inspiring and valuable. The respectful and open attitude of his colleagues and partners at work and the natural approach to daily life encouraged him to remain in touch with Bhutan and its people.
It has connected many people and organizations to partners in Bhutan and vice versa since 2002.
Bhutan+partners facilitate and generate new and unusual programs driven by creative people searching for innovative and lasting connections. Founded in 2002, and based in the Netherlands, Bhutan+partners inspire people and organizations from Bhutan and Europe to connect in the fields of business, culture and sports. The programs are inspired by the principles of gross national happiness.
Some of key areas in which Bhutan+Partners have been playing a major role are business, the film industry, culture, and sports where it coordinated the Sport Coalitions in Action Program in Bhutan for the Dutch ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports from 2009 to mid 2012.

86 Centimeters
Bhutan+Partners produced the documentary 86 Centimeters about the threats of a glacial lake outburst flooding in Bhutan. 86 Centimeters is a co-production with TGMI Media – Bhutan, and Enlightenment Films. The well known documentary chronicling the 2002 World Cup, The Other Final between Bhutan and Montserrat was the forbearer.
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima’s visit to Bhutan:
October 10, 2007
At the invitation of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Royal Couple made an official visit to the Kingdom Bhutan. The visit further cemented the warm and friendly relationship between the two countries.
They visited the National Museum in Paro, an educational institute showcasing the history and culture of Bhutan and Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan.
On the second day, the couple were officially welcomed at Tashichhodzong, where the Royal Couple were granted and audience and received by the King.
They also visited the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and the Bhutan Archery Foundation which received the 2004 Prince Claus Award for the role they played in preserving the traditional sport and making it accessible to women. Following that the couple met with Bhutanese youth.

The couple also hiked to Tango Monastery. They also spoke about 'Gross National Happiness', developed by Bhutan as a 'yardstick' for sustainable socio-economic growth, good governance and the preservation and promotion of cultural values. Amongst others, the couple also visited the National Institute of Zorig Chusum. The visit was concluded with a cultural evening.

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