Boos and demonstrators who raise their middle fingers and shout “traitor” towards King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Amalia. The demonstration at the driving tour and the balcony scene was unique for Prinsjesdag, but given the polarization in society not a surprise to everyone.
The inverted Dutch flags and the booing towards the Glass Coach were not to be missed. “There is clearly less cheering than in previous years,” said Hans Jacobs, royal journalist – with a sense of understatement – in the broadcast on NPO 1. After the tour, the police reported that five demonstrators had been arrested, including for insulting. Six tractors have been seized.
“Let’s not forget that it is very unusual to demonstrate on Prinsjesdag”, says Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, professor of social change and conflict at VU University Amsterdam. “In general, this is precisely a day when the Orangists go out on the street. It is really an Orange party.”
Still, she is not surprised by the protest. “The relationship between certain groups and the government is so tense that it is not surprising that they also make their voices heard on Prinsjesdag. This day is a symbol for government policy.”
Spectators of the tour react to the protest in varying ways:
Demonstrations during Prinsjesdag driving tour: ‘Is their right, but a pity’
Van Stekelenburg points out that there were also large-scale protests at another event in which the main characters were mainly applauded until then: “We also saw this arise during the arrival of Sinterklaas.”
Much of the anger related to the cabinet’s nitrogen plans, which is not surprising to the professor. “Because the farmers also experience this polarization with The Hague very much. They had also driven tractors to The Hague several times. The fact that they did that again today does not surprise me.”
Prime Minister Rutte calls “ridiculous” that some protesters called “traitor” to the king. He said it was understandable for people to express their anger: “But I’m not going to justify that people call the king a traitor.”
By the way, according to him, most of the protests were orderly:
Rutte thinks calling from ‘traitor’ to king is ridiculous
According to Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, the fact that the demonstrators seem to be aiming directly at Willem-Alexander with raised middle finger and calling “traitors” does not automatically mean that they are against the king. “I think they see him more as representing the politicians they’re so mad at.”
While driving past the Glass Carriage, some of the protesters continued to chant: “Revolution! Revolution!” That too is often not meant literally, says the professor.
“We have done a lot of research in the past on groups of protesters. In general, only a small part actually want a revolution. Most strive for changes within the system and within the boundaries of the rule of law.”
The protest was among others at the Council of State, where Princess Beatrix watched the tour:
Boos and inverted flags during driving tour
The cheering and whistling made it a lot more restless for the horses pulling the carriages and carriages than on a usual Prinsjesdag. The fact that they continued fairly undisturbed is partly due to their training. As early as May, they practiced with a brass band that started to play louder, says royal house journalist Hans Jacobs. “That training has been extra necessary this year.”
Despite the protests, there were of course many Orange fans at the driving tour, Professor Van Stekelenburg also saw: “This is their party. They have an almost Mona Lisa-like smile all day long: this is great.”