Expatica news

Queen confident society will find balance

29 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — On the eve of her silver jubilee as Dutch monarch, Queen Beatrix has spoken openly about the loneliness of her position and her belief that the Netherlands will emerge stronger from present tensions.

In a series of exclusive interviews with public broadcaster NOS, the Queen also spoke about the brutal murders of politician Pim Fortuyn and filmmaker Theo van Gogh, describing them as “disasters”.

The comment is noteworthy given the fact the Queen was criticised for not addressing the murder of Fortuyn in her Speech from the Throne in 2002. Beatrix was not immediately visible after the murder of Van Gogh either.

But Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said in the same broadcast on Thursday night: “I said in the days after the murder of Van Gogh that I’d been in contact with the Queen. In some statements that I issue, I also speak on behalf of the Queen.”

Turning to tension in society, Beatrix told interviewer and philosophy of law professor Dorien Pessers that the Netherlands is changing, but not necessarily for the better. She said the country is in a phase of transition.

She also said that undercurrents remain in society, but expressed faith in the Netherlands: “We have a strong society. We have basically a very healthy society also. In the long run, we must find a new balance.”

However, the Queen lamented the hardening of society, saying that it has become more superficial, pointing also to a greater emphasis on materialism. She said people have become ruder and that individualism is taking force.

Beatrix said toleration is something that is learned and taught to children and should be expanded to include other religious faiths and not just Christianity.

Praising a greater emphasis on quality, the Queen said “people have gradually started to recognise that it is very important to place demands on all aspects of society. For me, quality means that you do your best”.

But she regrets some changes in the Dutch character: “I believe that some of our matter-of-factness, austerity and moderation — which were part of the Dutch character — have become less visible”.

Turning to her role as monarch, the Queen said her reign has proven very different in practice than what she had imagined. “I primarily think that you misjudge how lonely it is,” she said, adding that the position of monarch is filled mainly by decision making. She was thankful of the support of family and her late husband Prince Claus.

Being always available is one of the difficult parts to her role as monarch also. She described this as a burden, but stressed that her faith has supported her in carrying out her responsibilities.

The Queen also said when signing legislation into law, it does not matter whether she agrees with the change or not and it does not indicate whether she agrees with the law. Essentially, Beatrix stressed that she must remain impartial in her approach.

And she is not ready to step down. She said her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and wife Princess Maxima first need time to enjoy building family and work pursuits before ascending the throne.

As to the role of being a grandmother, Beatrix said it was wonderful. “I had never thought it would be so fun. I may also baby sit now and again.”

Known for her involvement in times of tragedy, Beatrix said that comforting someone is not always possible. “Comfort is very difficult to give, but you can, I think, show your sympathy as much as possible.”

On Saturday, Queen’s Day, Beatrix will have officially been the Dutch monarch for 25 years. Celebrations will start with a concert on Dam Square on Friday night.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news