Amsterdam's drag queens out to rival Maxima
Camp, heavily made-up and scantily-clad, Dutch drag queens partied in Amsterdam as King Willem-Alexander was enthroned on Tuesday, showing the world that his Argentine wife Maxima was not the only queen in town.
The Netherlands was in 2001 the first country to legalise gay marriage, and city authorities invited ProGay, which organises the Gay Pride parade, to have a boat in a regal flotilla on Amsterdam's Ij river.
"The world's press is here today, it's a dream opportunity to show that we're not ashamed of who we are," Lulu Hazard told AFP, wearing a stunning blue hairdo, leather jacket, orange T-shirt and red heels.
Next to her, a companion wearing a revealing orange leopardskin mini-skirt, stamps her feet with impatience before the colourful and festive boat sets sail.
She declined to give her name, saying "the only thing that counts is that I'm queen today."
A total of 88 representatives of the Dutch Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGTB) community, including eight drag-queens, will sail alongside the royal vessel on the Ij, closing the day's ceremonies.
Around 250 boats are taking part, chosen to represent the Netherlands' very broad society. Those on the ProGay boat are bursting with pride at being on the official guest list.
"We chose a representative group from the Netherlands' LGTB community for our boat," said ProGay's head, Irene Hemelaar, dressed up as a queen.
"Those who wear leather, transvestites, drag queens, the most masculine women, the most feminine women, a bit of everything!" she said.
According to Hemelaar, around one million of the Netherlands population of 17 million is gay.
"The fact that we're drag queens is obviously also a nod to Maxima, she's not the only queen of the day," smiled Lulu Hazard.
When the ProGay boat approaches the royal vessel, the 88 on board plan on singing Swedish pop group ABBA's hit "Dancing Queen" at the top of their voices.
"We also are subjects," said ProGay's Lucien Spee, dressed as a ship's captain for the occasion.
Hemelaar welcomed the fact that Queen Maxima will later this month attend a dinner held to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.
The ProGay barge will return to the dock at around 10:00 pm, but her passengers will continue to party elsewhere in the city.
Some will gather at the centrally located "Homonument", built in memory of victims of homophobia, where concerts are planned throughout the night.
Queen Beatrix, 75, a princess since she abdicated on Tuesday, has also been honoured.
On Monday evening a queen dressed up as Beatrix, wearing a purple skirt and with a Beatrix-like helmet-shaped hairdo, drew a lot of attention in an Amsterdam neighbourhood that is home to several gay bars.
"Your majesty! Your majesty!" shouted an accompanying group of drag queens wearing orange and black tights and miniskirts.
"Oh, my dear subjects," the queen replied, feigning a swoon.
© 2013 AFP