Dutch queen unveils monument for victims of royal attack

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Dutch Queen Beatrix unveiled a monument Thursday for seven people killed when a man rammed his car into festival-goers in a failed attack on the royal family a year ago.

In a solemn ceremony in the central city of Apeldoorn, the scene of last year's assault, the monarch drew aside a white sheet to reveal a glass and granite monument resembling a cardboard box containing blue and white balloons.

"Here is a monument that carries the names of the fallen," Apeldoorn mayor Fred de Graaf told mourners at the event, which was closed to the public and media but broadcast live on public television.

"Their lives should not have ended here."

Beatrix and members of her family watched in horror as 38-year-old Karst Tates ploughed his car at high speed into a crowd at last year's Queen's Day festivities, narrowly missing an open top bus transporting the royals.

Before he died, bringing the death toll to eight, Tates told investigators he had been targeting the royals and described crown prince Willem Alexander as a fascist and racist.

A statement from the royal press office said the new memorial symbolised a mixture of vulnerability, festivity and mourning, according to its creator, glass artist Menno Jonker.

It was built on the spot where people laid hundreds of flower bouquets after last year's attack.

After the unveiling, during which police lined the streets and blocked off traffic, the queen, other members of the Dutch royal family, victims and next-of-kin of those killed, lay dozens of white roses around the memorial.

Beatrix will attend this year's Queen's Day festivities in the towns of Middelburg and Wemeldinge in the southwestern province of Zeeland on Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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