Monday, 30 December 2013

Royal pictures for 2013: the Netherlands

The abdication of Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands was a surprise but not a shock.  The pattern for standing aside is well established in the country but Beatrix's appearance on television on the evening of January 28th 2013 to announce she would abdicate in favour of her eldest son and her heir, Willem-Alexander, was still unexpected at that time.  Her reign came to an end on the 33rd anniversary of its start, April 30th 2013, when she signed away her realm in a moving ceremony that was as emotional as it was simple.  After Willem-Alexander had also signed the instrument of abdication mother and son held hands in a very human gesture at the most important state event of all.

A mother and her son, a former queen and her new king - Beatrix and Willem-Alexander in the moments immediately following her abdication and his accession on Queen's Day, April 30th 2013

The events surrounding the end of one reign and the beginning of a new era had been filled with joy as well as pomp and circumstance, with members of all of Europe's royal families attending the two days of celebrations.  But it was the image of the new royal family of the Netherlands waving from the balcony after the king's accession that summed up how special the whole event had been.

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and their children salute the crowds who gathered to celebrate the beginning of the new reign on April 30th 2013

The new king quickly adapted to his new role as head of state but within months he was called upon to lead his family on one of its hardest days.  The king's younger brother, Johan Friso, died on August 12th 2013 at the age of 44.  He had been badly injured in a ski-ing accident in February 2012 in Lech, Austria and had received treatment in London for many months before returning home to the Netherlands in the early summer of 2013.  He had been in a coma for much of that time but had recovered some minimal consciousness in the months before his death from complications from the accident.  On the eve of his funeral, the royal household released an image of the prince with his wife and children as the lasting memory of a prince who became a family man.

The lasting memory of Friso, seen here with wife Mabel and their daugthers, Luana and Zaria, in the photograph issued by the royal household as they prepared to say their final goodbyes

Johan Friso was buried in a private ceremony on August 16th 2013 at Lage Vuursche, near the home his mother had only recently moved to.  Princess Beatrix turned to comforting his widow and children.

Princess Beatrix leads mourners at the funeral of her second son, Johan Friso, on August 16th 2013

The new king and queen embarked on a series of visits to other royal courts around Europe to introduce themselves as monarchs and in November they played host to their neighbours, the new king and queen of the Belgians.  The image of Willem-Alexander and Philippe with their consorts, Maxima and Mathilde, sealed a year of momentous change in both royal houses.

The new face of Europe's monarchies as the kings and queen consorts of the Belgians and the Netherlands meet in November 2013

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