The third Tuesday of September is Prince’s Day in the Netherlands. It signals the start of the Dutch parliamentary year and is one of the most important days in the Dutch royal calendar.
Schools in The Hague close so the children can watch the procession as the Queen rides a golden horse-drawn carriage from the Noordeinde Palace to the Hall of Knights in the Binnenhof, the seat of the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
As Head of State, the Queen delivers the “Speech from the Throne” before a joint meeting of both chambers of parliament, members of the cabinet, the Council of State and some other invited guests. The Queens’ Speech outlines the government’s plans for the coming year. The Finance Minister presents his symbolic briefcase, containing both the Budget Memorandum and the National Budget to the President of the House of Representatives later in the day.
The Dutch Royal Armed Forces line the road as the procession returns to the Noordeinde Palace. The Royal Family appears on the palace balcony to address the huge crowd waiting for them.
The Prince’s Day celebrations date back to the 18th century when a holiday was declared to mark Prince Willem V’s birthday.
In present times, the occasion has taken a more pragmatic significance and is not a national holiday. The scenes of royal traditions in The Hague however are not lost on an adoring public that lines the city’s streets to witness the pomp and glory of the occasion.