Royals not amused with PM
14 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's criticism of satirical representations of the Dutch royal family has reportedly rebounded badly, as the House of Orange claims his inept performance has itself damaged the monarchy.
14 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's criticism of satirical representations of the Dutch royal family has reportedly rebounded badly, as the House of Orange claims his inept performance has itself damaged the monarchy.
Sources close to the royal family even say that the royals enjoy a good parody of themselves. But Government Information Service RVD officially denied claims that Queen Beatrix was critical of Balkenende's statement.
The denial came after "prominent chief source" was quoted in daily newspaper De Volkskrant saying: "A good column by Youp van 't Hek in the NRC newspaper, a cartoon by Collignon and an episode of Kopsijkers on television can keep the family amused all weekend".
In contrast, the royals are reportedly not amused with their prime minister. They are said to be very annoyed that Balkenende and Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner launched an extraordinary attack on various parodies of the royals on television programmes including Egoland, made by broadcaster BNN, and Kopspijkers, produced by Vara.
Christian Democrat CDA party leader Balkenende said earlier this month that the royal family was too often the butt of derision. He said he was "unhappy" with TV programmes that poke fun at the royals, claiming that such programmes could be damaging for the Royal House because it could not defend itself against satire.
Giving the impression that the royal family was backing his stance, Balkenende urged the media to moderate representations and satire of the royal house. Donner, also a member of the CDA, made similar comments.
But Balkenende's coalition partners, the Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 parties, distanced themselves from Balkenende. His Deputy Prime Ministers Thom De Graff (D66) and Gerrit Zalm (VVD) both said the criticism of satire was misplaced.
Balkenende defended his remarks before Parliament this week, but other ministers also came out against him, adding that "the impression has arisen with us that the Prime Minister had to say this from Queen Beatrix".
Royal sources cited in the Dutch media on Friday indicated that Queen Beatrix — the constitutional Head of State — did raise her concerns during one weekly meeting with Balkenende about the theatre production, "Landgenoten, Beatrix spreekt".
The title of the play could be translated as "Citizens, Beatrix speaks." Ger Beukenkamp, the author of the parody of the monarch's annual address to the nation, told magazine Vrij Nederland on 25 October this year that the piece was in the form of a confession and was also very anti-monarchical.
He said he was trying to bring his anti-royalist views to the fore using Beatrix's "own voice".
The Queen, according to De Volkskrant, was shocked by his comments and in internal discussions with her advisors raised the question of where the border lies in relation to using art to attack the monarchy.
She tried to share this concern with Balkenende, but he went too far — in the eyes of the royals — by criticising all parodying of the royal family as potentially damaging to the monarchy.
Opinion polls, including one on Expatica, clearly indicate that Balkenende's attempt to defend the monarchy fell as flat as a lead balloon.
The chairman of the Society of Editors-in-chief, Pieter Broertjes, summed the situation up when he met with Donner by telling him that it was a "mission impossible" to moderate the tone of reporting around the royal family.
The royal family has been embroiled in controversy recently, the latest crisis coming as the third-in-line Prince Johan Friso renounced his rights to the throne in favour of going ahead with his marriage to his fiancée Mabel Wisse Smit.
She had lied about the extent of her relationship with the 1991-assassinated mafia boss Klaas Bruinsma and Balkenende announced in October that he would not ask Parliament to approve her marriage to Prince Johan Friso.
Marrying without parliamentary approval will result in the Prince losing his rights to succession.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news