28 January was a historic day: Beatrix, queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1980, announced that she will abdicate on 30 April, in favour of her son Willem-Alexander. He will be the first Dutch king in 123 years. The big question is: should Willem-Alexander grow a royal beard?
First of all, we’ll miss Beatrix. She’s the perfect queen: reserved when she’s among fellow royalty and politicians, slightly more spontaneous when she mingles with ‘the people’. Aristocratic and folksy at the same time. Without apparent discomfort, she’ll dance, wear a funny helmet, hug dogs and orangutans, and effortlessly peel an apple.
Queen Beatrix gave a couple of reasons for her abdication. Firstly, she celebrated her 75th birthday on 31 January. Secondly, the Netherlands became a kingdom exactly 200 years ago (when Napoleon was defeated in 1813). And most importantly, she thinks “the responsibility for our nation should lie in the hands of a new generation”.
Now let’s not lose ourselves in a debate about the viability of the concept ‘monarchy’ in the 21st century and just focus on the facts. What changes when Willem-Alexander gets inaugurated as king?
● Queen’s Day becomes King’s Day and will be celebrated on 27 April (W-A’s birthday) instead of 30 April (Beatrix’ mother Juliana‘s birthday). Except in 2014, when the 27th falls on a Sunday and King’s Day is celebrated on 26 April.
● After the accession of her father, Amalia gets the title of Princess of Orange and thereby becomes the heir apparent to the Dutch throne.
No beard, no king
The immensely popular Facebook page Zonder baard, geen koning (No beard, no king) is on a mission: ‘100.000 likes for the royal beard!’ They ignore the fact that Willem I, who reigned from 1815 to 1840, didn’t have a full beard and neither did his son and successor Willem II (1840 – 1849). Yes, they both had impressive sideburns, but that doesn’t count. Willem III (1849 – 1890) did have a nice beard though, and so do a lot of contemporary kings and crown-princes like king Haakon of Norway, prince Filip of Belgium and prince William.
Willem-Alexander will be the first Dutch king in 123 years. Emphasising his manhood by growing a solid beard would be the logical thing to do, wouldn’t it? Especially since he’ll be succeeded by yet another queen. So come on, Willem-Alexander, grow that beard already!