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Dutch culture post 1: Prinsjesdag

Hi all!

We’ve been wondering about whether it would be a good idea to introduce some cultural threads to the Dutch forum, for those of you who would like to know more about our customs, traditions and holidays! This will be our ‘pilot post’. Let us know whether you would like to see more. :)

Today we ‘celebrated’ the 200th Prinsjesdag. You can find more information below, but first… take a few minutes for looking at this breathtaking golden chariot.

Purpose of Prinsjesdag
On Prinsjesdag (which is '(Little) Prince's Day' in English), the reigning monarch of the Netherlands (currently King Willem-Alexander) addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives in the Ridderzaal ( = Hall of Knights) in The Hague/Den Haag (city of the government, International Criminal Court, etc.). The monarch always travels to the Ridderzaal by golden chariot, through a small, central part of The Hague. The Speech from the Throne ('Troonrede', in Dutch) sets out the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary session. Things discussed are therefore, for example, budget cuts, taxes, new policy plans, etcetera.

Video of the golden chariot traveling through The Hague/Den Haag

This is the 'Ridderzaal' with the thrones for the monarch and his, or her, spouse.

And this was King Willem-Alexander presenting the 'Troonrede' today.

History of Prinsjesdag
‘Prinsjesdag’ has its roots in the 18th century when it originally referred to the celebrations surrounding Prince William V’s birthday, which was on the 8th of March. During the so-called ‘patriottentijd’ (patriot era), the day was used for demonstrations of loyalty to the House of Orange.

The first ‘Prinsjesdag’ in the sense that we know today took place on May 2nd 1814. Even though certain constitutional structures have changed since then, the principle has largely remained the same. Before 1848, the king determined what was said in the speech, but after that it was the ministers’ task.

The date of ‘Prinsjesdag’ used to be a fixed date, as determined by the constitution. It was originally held on the first Monday in November, then moved to the third Monday in October, and finally, when the annual budgets were introduced, the date was brought forward to September. It was also moved to a Tuesday so that parliamentarians did not have to leave from distant parts of the country on a Sunday to get to The Hague in time.

Question from us, to you:
Do you have a similar occasion in your own country?
We can think of one... ;)

Please refrain from discussing whether or not you approve of our royalty. Such a discussion is not the purpose of this post. Thank you. :)

[Written by KaiEngle and Lavinae]

September 16, 2014



Happy Prinsjesdag! I hardly know anything about Dutch culture, so the lessons and these posts will be a great gateway for me. Thanks for posting, it was interesting! :D

Who do I contact to get a ride in that chariot?

In regards to the question: In America, the closest thing I can think of would be the State of the Union address that the President makes yearly. I believe it gives details of the governmental happenings, but that shows how much I know about that. ;)


Thanks Alexis! ^^

I don't know... I don't have the right connections either, it seems .
There's only one solution: We've gotta make our way into the Dutch royal family somehow.


Glad you like it! :)

It's true, we may not have the right connections yet... but at least we have fitting titles already. That could get us somewhere...


This was really interesting, Lavinae and Kai! I love learning about Dutch culture, so I would love to see more posts here.

Are there any customs that everyday people have for Prinsjesdag? Or is it purely governmental?


We don't really celebrate.
There are some people waiting for the chariot to pass by and for the balcony scene, though. The balcony scene: the King, Queen and members of the Royal family wave to the public from the balcony of Paleis Noordeinde ('Noordeinde Palace'), once they've returned.

This is indeed a key date for governmental purposes. We learn what to expect for the coming year and the media reports on these plans. You could see it as a declaration, specifying which political measures will be taken/are planned. :)

Thus, this is a big day for the media and politics.
Not a day of big celebrations, unlike Kings' Day. :)


Is it king's day or kings' day? I'm genuinely curious, I'm not just picking up on what is likely correct grammar. Is it about all your kings if olde?


Yeah it is a typo. It's supposed to be King's Day ('Koningsdag'). We used to have Queen's Day to celebrate our then queen, but after her son became King in January last year, he changed the name of the holiday to 'King's Day'. It's only about him and not about our previous kings.


This is an awesome post! Very interesting. Was it very special today because of being the 200th Prinsjesdag?


That was a question asked by a reporter this morning. There were no extra celebrations.

The argument goes that there's already enough ceremony and gold and that there were plenty of women wearing fancy hats already. There was simply no need for extra 'fluff'. :)


This is a really interesting post. I think learning a language is more than learning vocabulary and grammar; it means learning about history and culture.


Happy Prinsjesdag! I was about to wonder why you're online here and not busy selling your stuff on the vrijmarkt. But that tradition seems to belong to King/Queen's Day. Glad I double-checked with Wikipedia :)


This was a great post! Is the Dutch royal family still the Orange family? We have something really similar the British state opening of Parliament when the Queen comes and gives a speech about what the government has said it will do in the forthcoming year. In fact it seems almost the same the Queen rides to Parliament in a carriage with Prince Philip sits on a throne and goes a speech


Yes, the Dutch royal family is still the van Oranje-Nassau family.


Excellent post! It is always great to have culture insights as a complementary background in language learning - especially considering that the Dutch course is already quite rich in this perspective. I'm really glad that we get the chance to learn even more about your country and culture.

Happy Prinsjesdag!


I'm with AlexisLinguist - I'm pretty sure Americans have "State of the Union," where the media gets all fired up, and the population has started thinking, "Meh."

I remember a very large hotel in a mall in Den Haag with the little model of Prinsjesdag in its window. That was how I got to experience it, as I was in the Netherlands in June.

Thank you for this extremely interesting post, I would absolutely love to learn more about the culture and traditions.


Thanks for the Prinsjesdag post. I was just in Den Haag earlier today for just that!


Interesting post! I would like to read more posts like this one in the future. :)


Please do continue posting these types of threads. A big part of learning a language is discussing the culture. I love the initiatives you take for us learners


Why is it held in November and moved to October?? I think November is behind October? I am Chinese so I have some difficulties understanding Dutch culture but I will try my best!


Thanks for the post! It is very nice to be learning about the culture alongside the language. It makes it more interesting and nourrishing :)! I have some questions though, you mentioned that now it is the ministers who decide what is written on the speech right? Has it ever happened that the King or Queen disagreed with what was written? Or is it merely symbolic that he/she reads it and none of what´s written is related to him/her?

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