PM defends attack on royal satire

13th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

11 November 2003, AMSTERDAM — Called to explain himself before the Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denied the Cabinet was divided over the use of satire to mock members of the royal family.

11 November 2003

AMSTERDAM — Called to explain himself before the Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denied the Cabinet was divided over the use of satire to mock members of the royal family.

Balkenende said last week that the royal family was too often the butt of derision and that he was "unhappy" with TV programmes that poke fun at the royal family, claiming that such programmes could be damaging for the Royal House because the royals could not defend themselves against satire.

And the prime minister said during question time in the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday that he did not regret his comments and that no Cabinet decision had been taken in regards satirical portrayals of the royal family, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Balkenende said he had urged the media to moderate its portrayal of the royal family based on his prime ministerial responsibilities and that he only wished to protect the privacy of the royal family. He also said the comments fitted appropriately within cabinet policy.

But deputy prime ministers Gerrit Zalm (Liberal VVD) and Thom de Graaf (Democrat D66) have distanced themselves from Balkenende, claiming that criticism of satirical portrayals of the royal family satire is misplaced. But neither Zalm nor De Graaf have said that the Prime Minister should not have made the comments.

VVD minister Johan Remkes (Interior), Henk Kamp (Defence) and Hans Hoogervorst (Education) also shared Zalm's criticism of Balkenende's comments. "The impression has arisen with us that the Prime Minister had to say this from Queen Beatrix," a VVD source had said.

But Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner backed Balkenende on Sunday, warning warned that vulgar satires — due to their continuous and mass circulation — threatened the functioning of the monarchy. He also criticised serious media for its role in the recent scandal involving Mabel Wisse Smit, the fiancée of Prince Johan Friso.

Minister Donner has since said that appealing to the responsibility of the media is only intended to prevent the Royal House form being continually undermined. The prime minister has also dismissed any suggestion of censorship.

The chairman of the Society of Editors-in-chief, Pieter Broertjes, has since said he wants to meet with Donner and make it clear to him that it is a "mission impossible" to moderate the tone of reporting around the royal family.

The royal family has been embroiled in recent controversy, highlighted recently when third-in-line Prince Johan Friso renounced his rights to the throne in favour of his fiancée Mabel, who lied about the extent of her relationship with the 1991-assassinated mafia boss Klaas Bruinsma. It is alleged that Mabel had an affair with the drugs baron.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news

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