#35 King’s Day

Today is King’s Day in my native country, a day where the entire country of Holland turns orange. Why orange? ask a lot of people I talk to here in the US. It’s basically to honor the royal family, their last name is “van Oranje” – or “of Orange”, and on King’s Day we celebrate the Kings birthday. It’s a national holiday, so everyone is off work (if its during the week) and around the country there a tons of concerts, parties, and lots of flea markets. And the royal family always visits a Dutch town where they wave to the crowd, do traditional things like “koek happen” where you have your hands behind your back and you have to eat a cookie that’s hanging from a string. Sounds awkward, but it’s an old fun Dutch game/tradition. So on this day, it’s fun to watch the royal family on tv, then to go into town, drink a few beers, watch a few live bands and just have a great time.

The funny part is that I have literally zero photos of King’s Day, or Queen’s Day which is what it still was when I lived in Holland – until 2013 Holland had Queen Beatrix reigned the country, now it’s her son King Willem-Alexander. So no photo posting today of any King’s Day or Queen’s Day festivities. But, back in 2006, I did get to see Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima (who is now the queen) in person. I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for about 6 months and during my stay the royal family went on a state visit to Argentina. Queen Maxima is from Argentina, so it was pretty cool to see her in her native country.

I’d heard about their visit to Argentina on the Dutch news, so I looked up their schedule on the royal family’s website and tried to find an event where we wouldn’t have much trouble seeing them in person. And so they appeared in the afternoon in the poor neighborhood of La Boca, where they visited El Trapito which is a small child care facility. We could tell that the royal family was arriving because of the long motorcade with police and military escort. When the motorcade stopped the Mercedes that carried Willem-Alexander and Maxima literally pulled up right in front of us. My buddy and I (also from Holland) were wearing outfits with a crazy orange hat, so when Maxima get out and walked around the car and noticed us, I think she was genuinely surprised and happy to see two goofy Dutch guys in the middle of La Boca in Buenos Aires. She said “wow hello there!” and we asked “hello, how are you?” to which she responded “doing very well, thank you” all in Dutch of course. So that obviously made the whole thing a success already.

The royal family and entourage went inside the child care facility for some official business, and in the mean time a huge crowd gathered. Two tv camera crews from Holland even interviewed us, which made us appear for about 15 seconds of fame on the Dutch evening news! When the royal family left the building, we got some more good photos after which the motorcade departed and the entire crowd went back to normal life.

So all in all this was just an awesome and very memorable experience, and I’m happy with the lucky shot in which Queen Maxima is smiling straight into the camera! (March 2006)

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