Yesterday, the Netherlands celebrated the anniversary of their Kingdom once again and our fellow royal watcher Arjan - find him on Twitter here - was in on the action and wrote about it for us - Thank you so much, Arjan!
As some of you might know, the Kingdom of the Netherlands exists for 200 years. In the period 2013-2015, several events all over the Netherlands have taken/ will take place to celebrate this milestone. Yesterday, the place to be was Maastricht, in the far south of the Netherlands. Maastricht is perhaps the most international city of the Netherlands: it's very close to the Belgian and German borders and Luxembourg isn't very far away either. To give you an idea: Luxembourg is much closer to Maastricht than Amsterdam or The Hague. Maastricht also gives its name to the 1992 treaty which laid the blueprint for the European Union as we know it today. So: a suitable place for celebrations that were meant to highlight the international outlook of the Kingdom.
Along with, of course, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the celebrations in Maastricht were attended by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (Luxembourg shared its Grand Duke until 1890 with the Kingdom), King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians (Belgium has been a part of the Kingdom before gaining independance) and President Joachim Gauck of Germany with his partner (Germany is the most important trading partner of the Netherlands).
As Maastricht is less than two hour drive from where I live, we (that's me and my boyfriend) decided to make a day of it and yesterday morning, we jumped in the car for a day of some serious royalty watching, some shopping and having dinner.
First we went to the Markt. We arrived at 12h30. We got a very nice spot and then the waiting game began. As many of you know, good royalty watching requires a lot of patience (kudos to my boyfriend, who let himself be persuaded to accompany me), which will be rewarded in the end with having a good view and (in my case) being able to make some pictures. At the Markt a 'spectacle of music and fashion without borders' would take place. Sounded promising. The royals and president would arrive two hours later, so we had to entertain ourselves in the meantime with watching the rehearsals and watching some silent protesters against the monarchy (they only held high a sign). We spotted some well known journalists, saw some minor guests arrive and then in the end, the royal bus arrived: that's what we were waiting for.
Before the show began, the distinguished guests would go into the Town Hall for a short speech by the Major of Maastricht and the signing to the guest book. Then they would get out again and pose for the media for a moment.
The guests took their seats and the show began. I'll be honest: I didn't care for it (and when I took a look at my timeline on Twitter, many shared my view), though a few poems were nice and I really liked the violin ensemble, which combined their sound with some modern beats. The fashion was too much I think, which made it seem like the guests were attending a fashion show. Well, I looked at the royals for most of the time anyway. The Grand Duke and Queen Máxima, who were seated next to each other, seemed to have a great time anyway: they shared many laughs together.
After an hour the 'spectacle' was over and the guests left. Fortunately, there was no rain during the show (the forecast was quite bad). The guests left for an international congress and we decided to get a drink and do some shopping.
Before having dinner, I couldn't resist waiting for the royal bus to come by for some last snapshot. It was a lucky one! BTW: I love the practical interior of the royal bus: very sensible, those holes in the table for drinks! You don't want to spill on your expensive frocks during a bumpy ride, do you?!
After that, we were starved and had dinner in a nice (and cheap!) little restaurant in another beautiful and surprisingly quiet part of the city centre. Travel advice: visit Maastricht some time! To me, it's the most beautiful city in the Netherlands.
Thanks for the ladies at Luxarazzi for giving me the honour of writing a piece for their fantastic blog, which is really one of my favourites (they do a great job, don't they?)!