Embassy Row: Dutch treat

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With his home festooned with peonies, orchids and, of course, tulips, the Dutch ambassador treated Washington journalists Tuesday to an elegant luncheon to celebrate the investiture of the first king of the Netherlands in 123 years.

“This is a very special day for us. We have a king again,” Ambassador Rudolf Bekink said just hours after 75-year-old Queen Beatrix in Amsterdam turned over the monarchy to her 46-year-old son, Willem-Alexander of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The much-beloved Beatrix, who now has assumed the title of princess, ended her 33-year reign in a nationally televised ceremony in the Royal Palace, where she signed the instruments of abdication, as thousands of Dutch subjects wearing orange cheered outside and millions watched the broadcast.

In a speech later at a 15th-century church next to the palace, King Willem wore a fur-trimmed ceremonial cloak and pledged his allegiance to the nation of 17 million.

“I will proudly represent the kingdom and help discover new opportunities,” he said.

Nearly 4,000 miles away in Washington, Mr. Bekink endeavored to help his American guests understand the importance of the coronation of a Dutch monarch. The last king died in 1890, and was followed by three queens.

Mr. Bekink noted that 680,000 U.S. jobs depend on Dutch investments.

The United States, a republic, and the Netherlands, a constitutional monarchy, share the same democratic goals of free speech and self-government, said Mr. Bekink, who also referred to the “historic degree to our ties.”

In 1614, Dutch traders established New Amsterdam, now New York City. By 1688, William of Orange, one of the new king’s ancestors, and his Scottish wife, Mary, assumed the throne of Britain and inspired Virginians to establish Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary, the second-oldest college in the United States after Harvard.

During the American Revolution, rebel ships freely sailed to the Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean. Later, the Dutch provided loans to save the rebellious Americans from bankruptcy and granted the United States diplomatic recognition in 1782, a year before the British officially signed the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War.

“Our relationship runs much deeper than our wallets and our purses,” Mr. Bekink said.

Dutch writer Charles Groenhuijsen, who also discussed the coronation, recalled the investiture of Queen Beatrix in 1980, when protesters rioted over a chronic housing shortage. Three decades later, they cheered their queen.

“This is Holland at its best,” he said.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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