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Friday, September 24, 2010

Queen Beatrix and the Opening of the Dutch Parliament

This past Tuesday I went with some members of the American Women's Club to The Hague to watch Queen Beatrix  ride in her Golden Carriage to the opening of the Dutch Parliament (Staten-Generaal).  The third Tuesday in September is the traditional day for the State Opening of the Dutch parliament and presentation of the government's budget plans. The queen rides her carriage from her palace to the Binnenhof.

The Binnenhof

Queen Beatrix

So here is a little history on this famous carriage -
The Golden Carriage  or Gouden Koets is a carriage owned and used by the Dutch royal family. Generally, the Golden Carriage is used yearly to bear the Dutch monarch from the Noordeinde Palace  to the Ridderzaal or Knight's Hall in the Binnenhof in order to pronounce the Speech from the Throne.

Queen Wilhelmina received the Golden Carriage at her 1898 investiture as a tribute from the citizens of Amsterdam.   Queen Wilhelmina was beloved by the people of Amsterdam and the citizens donated 25 cents each towards building of this carriage. Because Queen Wilhelmina wished not to receive gifts on the day of her enthronement on September 6, 1898, she actually took receipt of the Golden Carriage the following day. The vehicle was first used on the occasion of the marriage of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik on February 7, 1901. Since 1903, it has mainly been used once a year, on the day of the Queen's speech (Prinsjesdag).
The carriage is made of  teak wood, much of which is covered in gold leaf. It is decorated with paintings and symbolic ornaments. The carriage was built in Dutch Rennaissance style. It is pulled by eight horses when the reigning monarch is riding therein; only six horses when other members of the royal family are traveling in the coach. Queen Wilhelmina wanted to be able to stand upright in the carriage, which explains the bent form of the carriage's roof. This increased height of the carriage has made the carriage more difficult to drive.

Enough of the history lesson!

 The Dutch people dress up for the Prinsjesdag.  This is a group of women who belong to the Red Hat Society.
 Their organization is for women 50 years of age and older and is based on a poem  which states, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me."
 There was a sea of red hats!
 Because there are Trolley Cars in The Hague,
rope has to be put down in their tracks.
 This is so the wheels of the carriage don't get caught in the tracks.
They lay down miles of rope!
 This is Cindy and Janis.  Cindy was kind enough to
take me along for the ride to see the parade.
They are both expats too.
 The military lining the streets prior to the procession.
 This is serious business!
 We saw this procession in reverse if you will.
We saw the backs of the participants before we saw the fronts!
 I thought these guys were interesting.
To me they looked like they were marching band members,
except the carried weapons!
 There were hundreds of horses.
I would guess an easy 400-500.
But I am not the best at estimating so I could be wrong.
 These are Dutch warm bloods.
They are a magnificent looking breed.

 The crowd waiting to catch a glimpse of their queen.

 One of two carriages that were alike.
I don't know who was riding in these though.
 I loved all these gray horses.
I always wanted a dapple gray horse!
How would you like to play drums and ride a horse?
 The Golden Carriage!
 Keep reading I have a better view later on.
 Coming back from the opening of Parliament.
 The assault weapons marching band!
At least that is what I call them.
 A view from the front.
 Here are the gray horses and right in the middle of them is this guy.
 A paint!  I wonder what the deal is with that?
 This carriage is pulled by four horses instead of two like the other one.
I would imagine the more important you are the more horses pull your carriage.
 The soldiers in front of the queen's carriage.
 This rider is signifying the appearance of the queen.
 Eight horses pull her carriage, indicating she is in the carriage.
 If I zoom in you might see the queen.
 Keep looking . . .
 looking . . .
looking . . .
 Well that is the best I can do but you can see her - mostly!
I like that there is a female soldier riding behind the carriage.
 The End!
 Now time to pull up the miles of rope.
 And I am still shocked when I actually see people wearing wooden clogs!
But they still do.  He was actually guiding the rope between his shoes at one point
so he might of had a purpose in wearing them.


Lydia said...

That is so neat. I love the grey horses too. My favorite pair of wood clog I have ever seen are my brother mikes. They look like wooden flower planters to me.

Keri said...

Wow, what a neat thing to have witnessed. Thanks for sharing!

Camille said...

That is really cool! How come you didn't mention all the horse poop in the background of your photos ?? :D