Pronunciation: /roi-uh l/
“There’s nothing so kingly as kindness, and nothing so royal as truth” – Alice Cary
Today is Kingsday in the Netherlands, and we ought to celebrate our monarch’s birthday by visiting concerts where they play loud music and getting as drunk as possible (basically, this is the way we always celebrate special national holidays over here). Everywhere throughout our country there’s flea markets being held and festivities to attend. Everyone has turned everything into bright orange (our national colour – yay! …NOT) for a day, and people left and right are declaring their respect for a man that’s not even really ruling our country and whom they’ve never met (and whom they make fun of the other 364 days of the year).
Here’s a picture of our king, his wife, and their daughters:
So yeah, not really my kind of thing. Usually I check out the annual flea market that’s held in my village’s city centre, but it’s always so crowded with people I do not like I evidently end up feeling icky and slightly claustrophobic, so I quit doing that. Besides, they’re never selling anything new (pun intended), but keep on presenting the same old crap every year. It’s heinous to go there. Especially if you dislike big crowds of obnoxious people, like I do.
I’m not sure what I did last year on Kingsday, but since I don’t remember I assume it must have been what I usually do to avoid forced national cheerfulness: hide under my rock (a bit like Patrick the starfish from Spongebob). The year before that I spent Queensday with my two best friends, because that was the date on which our then queen passed the crown down to her son. And before that, I’d plan my trips to other countries around Queensday, so I’d have a good excuse why I couldn’t get involved in the festivities (besides, feeding giant pandas is so much cooler than moving around people-infested areas, trying not to slap anyone for being too drunk or too annoying).
Anyway, the reason for this post was this thought I had today, which I have every year when it’s Kings/Queensday: “I am so glad I am not of royal descent.” Disney princess? Sure, I’d love to be one! Real princess? Not so much. Why? Well, there’s several reasons:
- Everything you do is judged by an entire nation; The clothes you wear, all the choices you make (or don’t make), the way your hair is worn, the items you purchase (or don’t purchase but get for free because you’re a member of the royal family), the partner you choose, the names you give your children… Every single aspect of your life is put under a magnifying glass, scrutinized, and criticised.
I get tired when I criticise myself all day long, every day. That exhausts me. Imagine having nearly 17 million people do that to you. Pure nightmare.
- You’re never really free; Imagine you’re the crown prince or princess. That’s it, then. Your career has been chosen for you. Want to become a dentist? Doctor? Lawyer? Forget all about that, you’re going to rule a country one day! And even that’s a joke, because despite becoming your nation’s monarch, you never get to really rule it. That’s the prime minister’s job (along with the leading parties). The only thing you can do that’s unique for your job, is to veto a law and cut ribbons. You don’t even get to state your own opinion about political affairs, because as a monarch you’re supposed to be neutral.
I know I might be making a whole lot of less money than our king (and his entire family), but at least I get to choose what I want to do. And if I want to say I disagree with the things our prime minister says or does, I can do so whenever I please (I hereby would like to say I dislike Mr. Rutte and his party very much and they’ll never receive my vote – see? No problem!).
- You never get to make your own decisions; Take your birthday, for example. If you’re a country’s monarch, there’s no way you can say: “No, not this year. I don’t feel like celebrating it at all. Let’s just skip it.” All your subjects are expecting a national blow-out. They demand at least a day off, festivities all throughout the country, lots of attention, and let’s face it: you’re going to have to make an appearance that day. It doesn’t matter where that is exactly, as long as you’re out in the open, among your people, and they can see you, maybe even talk to you, and give you presents.
I am going to Paris this year, to celebrate my turning twenty-nine. That, or Finland (I haven’t really made up my mind yet, but it also kind of depends on the safety situation in France). Either way, October 31, I’ll be either putting flowers on my literary hero’s grave and going crazy in Disneyland Resort Paris afterwards, or I’ll be on a dog sled somewhere in Lapland. Whatever it will be, I don’t care if nobody sees me or if I don’t get presents. I’ll be doing something I want to do!
As kings go, I suppose the Netherlands could have done a lot worse. I don’t dislike ours, or any member of the royal family. I don’t know them personally, so how can I? I hope they like the attention they get on Kingsday, and any other day of the year, and I hope they like their lives as much as I like mine. But I just can’t help feeling a bit sad when I see their smiling faces on my TV screen or in pictures; it makes me wonder if those smiles are genuine or simply well-acted. I think of what it would be like, being one of them. And I fear it might not be as blissful and splendid as everyone makes it out to be.
I think there’s a high price to be paid for being a royal. I am just glad I can’t afford that.
Happy birthday, Willem-Alexander! Hope you have a good one 🙂