Dutch news in brief, Friday 1 May 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Queen's Day drama dominates Dutch dailies
Only one story dominates the Dutch press today, as all of the papers try to make sense of the shocking events that turned Thursday's Queen's Day celebrations into a day of mourning.
‘Day of celebration turns into bloody tragedy’ reports De Volkskrant. One minute, cheerful spectators festooned in festive orange lined the streets, cheered and waved to the Dutch royal family. The next, a black car ploughed through the crowd at full speed and hurtled towards the royals' open-top bus, before crashing into a monument.
De Telegraaf summarises the tragedy with: ‘Total devastation: 5 dead and 12 injured’.
Photos printed by the papers include disturbing front-page pictures of the victims hitting the ground after being tossed through the air by the battered black Suzuki, distraught faces of the royal party as they turn to witness the horrific scene and a close-range shot of the car's driver, slumped behind the wheel and covered in blood.
Will attack on royals spell the end of a Dutch tradition?
In the context of the Netherlands' best-loved national holiday, the tragic event takes on the proportions of a national trauma.
Trouw reports ‘Queen's Day was always the party where the people and the royals could meet each other without restraint - and now we face the painful question of whether that will ever be possible again.’
AD concurs: "After this horrific deed, the Netherlands is asking whether Queen's Day has lost its innocence forever."
De Volkskrant describes the killer car as ‘A black phantom that has blown our dreams away’.
The paper talks to royalty watcher Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen, who was commentating on the day's festivities. She had planned to say: "This is such a great atmosphere, so beautiful, so touching. It's something we should cherish," but had to change it to "I'm afraid this is the end of an era."
Trouw offers a glimmer of hope, however, in the shape of the late Queen Wilhelmina ‘who stepped resolutely into an open carriage shortly after an anarchist attack abroad’.
The paper asserts ‘It is part of the tradition of the House of Orange to dare to take risks.’
De Telegraaf decries the tragedy as ‘an attack on our way of life’ but insists ‘this celebration must never be allowed to disappear’.
Three-year-old toddler in Netherlands down with Mexican flu
The Netherlands is also getting to grips with the fact that the Mexican flu epidemic has reached the country.
A three-year-old toddler who recently returned from a family celebration in Mexico City has been confirmed as the first victim in the Netherlands.
However, most of the papers seem to agree there is no immediate cause for alarm.
De Telegraaf reports reassuringly that ‘the child is now feeling a bit better and has even started playing again’.
Further reassurance comes from Health Minister Ab Klink, quoted as saying: "This is an isolated case and the situation is well under control".
NRC-next is also keen to point out that it's too soon for panic. While the word pandemic strikes fear into our hearts ‘it could still be that we are facing a pandemic of a virus that doesn't make you any sicker than a heavy dose of winter flu’.
It also reports that Dutch pig farmers are up in arms about the use of the Dutch term varkensgriep – which translates literally as 'pig flu' – to refer to the disease. They fear it will damage their image and send sales of pork plummeting.
Trouw has named the disease as ‘Mexican flu’ as the most logical. The paper argues that while the new flu is most similar to viruses found in pigs, no pig has ever been diagnosed with this particular strain.
Environment minister looks on the bright side
Trouw reflects on the seemingly boundless optimism of Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer when it comes to the Netherlands' ability to fulfil its environmental promises by 2020.
The paper talks to Environmental Studies Professor Klaas van Egmond of Utrecht University, who shows himself to be an understanding critic. On the one hand he is quick to attack the government's failure to overcome the opposition between economy and environment.
On the other hand he appreciates the pickle that Cramer is in.
"It's always difficult for an environment minister. In hard times there's no money for measures and when the economy is doing well, the burden on the environment inevitably increases. It's like being a minister in wartime,” said the professor.
Ray & Anita hit the comeback trail
AD reports on the return of one of the most successful pop groups from the Netherlands. Ray & Anita of 2 Unlimited notched up a string of international hits in the 90s – their biggest No Limit topping the charts in 35 countries.
On Thursday the pair took to one of the big open-air Queen's Day stages in Amsterdam for what seemed like the perfect comeback opportunity.
However, their Queen's Day comeback was overshadowed by the terrible events in Apeldoorn. They also came back under a different name – Ray and Anita – as their world famous group name belonged to their Belgian producers.
Their audience was also mainly made up of ‘of the orange-painted teenyboppers’ who were not familiar with the band.
Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica