Will Queen's Day ever be the same again?

Thursday's attack has so far claimed six lives plus the driver's.
By our news desk

To freely mingle with the people was the very essence of Queen's Day and the hallmark of the Dutch royal family. Did Karst T. change that forever?

Queen Beatrix, crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Máxima will attend next Monday's national remembrance ceremony in Amsterdam as planned. The government information service RVD confirmed the royal presence - an annual tradition - after doubts had been cast following Thursday's deadly incident in Apeldoorn. Amsterdam authorities say they are studying the need for extra security measures.

The decision underscores what many Dutch politicians have been saying the past two days: an act of madness by a lone attacker should not be allowed to change long-held Dutch traditions. Still, some people fear that the royal family's traditional mingling with the people may be a thing of the past.

Michiel Zonnevylle's comment in Thursday's de Volkskrant – which came out before the Apeldoorn attack - that the royal family has become to large to be taken around the country, now seems prophetic. Zonnevylle is the mayor of Leiderdorp and the president of the union of Orange organisations – volunteer groups that celebrate "Dutchness" and make appearances during Queen's Day.

"The cost of security has risen substantially since the 1980s," Zonnevylle said. He questioned whether it is really necessary for all the nieces and nephews – the royal family currently has 45 members – to accompany the queen on official outings. Maybe just the queen's children and grandchildren – fourteen altogether - could suffice.

On Friday, Zonnevylle insisted that his comments not be taken out of context. "Of course, the security measures have become very important lately. But this is something altogether different. I think we should not allow a madman – that is, I'm assuming he as a madman – to take this unique popular celebration away from us."

Liesbeth Spies, a Christian Democrat member of parliament, also hopes that Queen's Day will go on as before. "We have to wait for the investigation and the advice of experts," she says. "In any case, the decision lies with the head of state. [Crown prince] Willem-Alexander may have his own ideas."

Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party agrees. "The royal family has great liberty in organising Queen's Day. So it is important to know how they feel about this after what happened on Thursday."

Mariëtte Hamer, leader of the Labour party in parliament, looks forward to "a new analysis of the security of the royal family" following a thorough investigation.

Alexander Pechtold of the left-wing liberal party D66 pleads for "calm and a sense of reality". If someone is determined to commit an attack there is almost no way of stopping that, he says.

"In a democracy, but even in a dictatorship, total security is an illusion. The people who are now calling for extra security should realise that if they get their way there will be no more wonderful celebrations like Prince's Day, and [social affairs and employment minister] Donner will no longer be able to ride his bicycle around The Hague," says Pechtold.

Joël Voordewind of the Christian orthodox party ChristenUnie also asks for moderation. "It is not a choice between continuing as before or cancelling every public event, whether it is Queen's Day or Prince's Day. In the US they have concrete guards instead of crowd barriers. That could make a difference already. But I don't want to get ahead of the investigation."

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