The language of prinsjesdag
Learning the Dutch language is inextricably bound up with learning how Dutch culture works. The pragmatic Dutch have a number of traditions that can be traced back to events in the history of the Kingdom. One of these traditions is Princes’ Day on which the budget for the coming year is presented. Princes’ Day is always on the third Tuesday in September; this year it falls on 19 September.
Specific words are closely linked to the events that take place on Princes’ Day:
Prinsjesdag (Princes’ Day)
The day on which the parliamentary year officially starts; the opening of Parliament. It was originally the day on which the birthdays of the Princes of Orange were celebrated.
Staten Generaal (States General)
All members of the Second Chamber
Staatshoofd (Head of State)
The King of the Netherlands. He plays an important role on Princes’ Day. He gives the Throne Speech which is preceded by, amongst other things, a procession through The Hague in the royal carriage. His role ends with the balcony scene at Noordeinde Palace.
Gouden Koets (golden carriage)
The King rides through The Hague in the golden carriage which is pulled by eight horses. It was a present from the inhabitants of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina in 1898.
Troonrede (The Throne Speech)
This is the head of state’s speech which is written by the government. The speech outlines the state of affairs in the country and presents the Government’s plans for the coming parliamentary year. The Throne Speech traditionally starts with the words ‘Members of the States General…’. At the end of the head of state’s speech, the chairman of the First Chamber says: ‘Long live the King!’ whereupon everyone present answers: ‘Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!’
Miljoenennota (literally, the Millions’ Note)
This is the budget for the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the coming year. Although it refers to millions, the amounts are expressed in billions.
Algemene Beschouwingen (General Considerations)
The presentation of the Budget is followed by the General Considerations of the Second Chamber. First, the opposition parties are given the opportunity to react to the budget, then the cabinet members are allowed to defend its contents.
This is the name of the Dutch national anthem that is sung before and after the Throne Speech.
Many of the ladies who attend the Throne Speech ceremony wear eye-catching hats which are as much a cause for discussion as the budget itself!