The Dutch Royal Family

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy: the position of the monarch is laid down in the Constitution. The monarch is the Dutch head of state and, together with the ministers, makes up the government. Queen Beatrix has been the head of state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1980.

Position of the head of state
Since 1848, the Constitution has laid down that the monarch is inviolable. This means that the monarch is politically neutral and the ministers are accountable to Parliament for government policy. The ministers are also politically accountable for what the monarch says and does. As head of state, the monarch co-signs new Acts of Parliament. He/she also contributes to the formation of new governments, In addition, the monarch is President of the Council of State and every year delivers the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the parliamentary session.

As well as carrying out official tasks as head of state, the monarch works actively on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, playing a cohesive, representative and encouraging role.

The monarch binds people and population groups together and supports the activities of persons and organisations who play a cohesive role in society. As such, the monarch is impartial. This contributes to social stability, continuity and progress in the country. He/she expresses the people's feelings at times of both joy and sadness.

The monarch represents the Kingdom of the Netherlands at home and abroad. Every year, he/she undertakes state visits abroad and receives foreign heads of state and government visiting the Netherlands.

The monarch regularly attends conferences, meetings, celebrations, remembrance ceremonies, and other official events. He/she devotes attention to positive initiatives in society and supports valuable trends and activities.

The Queen's official birthday "Koninginnedag"
The Queen's official birthday (Koninginnedag) is a national holiday, which is celebrated by street parties and other events. The Queen and other members of the royal family visit the festivities in one or perhaps two different places each year. The royal visits are always broadcast live on television.

30 April
During the reigns of Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana, it was the custom to celebrate Koninginnedag on the Queen's birthday - 31 August and 30 April respectively. On the day of her investiture, 30 April 1980, Queen Beatrix stated that she wished to continue celebrating it on 30 April, as a mark of respect for her mother, Queen Juliana.

The forerunner of today's public holiday was celebrated for the first time on 31 August 1889, Princess Wilhelmina's birthday. It was an initiative of the Liberal Party in the hope that a symbol designed to foster national unity would promote unity within its own ranks. As the day marked the end of the summer, it replaced the local harvest festivals normally held at that time of the year. The first real Koninginnedag took place on 31 August 1891, after the death of King William III.

Queen Wilhelmina
As the day also fell at the end of the school holidays, 31 August soon became a special day for all Dutch schoolchildren. It received an extra boost in 1902, when Queen Wilhelmina suffered a serious illness. The news of her recovery delighted the nation and turned Koninginnedag into a truly popular public holiday. At that time, it was not customary for the royal family to attend the festivities, unless it was to mark a special occasion such as Queen Wilhelmina's 50th birthday in 1930.

Queen Juliana
During the years that Queen Emma, Queen Wilhelmina's mother, spent the summers at Soestdijk Palace, the local population would present her with a floral tribute on her birthday on 2 August. When Princess Juliana took up residence in her grandmother's country home following her marriage in 1937, the tradition was continued on her birthday, 30 April. After her accession to the throne in 1948, this was the date on which Koninginnedag was celebrated, and the modest parade grew into a national event, which was shown on television from the 1950s onwards. During Queen Juliana's reign, it gradually became the custom for everyone to have a day off on 30 April, which ultimately became an official public holiday.

Queen Beatrix
In 1980, as a mark of respect for her mother, Queen Beatrix announced that Koninginnedag would continue to be celebrated on 30 April. She did, however, change the way in which it is celebrated, by attending the festivities in one or two different places each year.