Ditch the king. hire an actor. – langaa research and publishing common initiative group (langaa rpcig)

ON April 30, 1980, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands was succeeded by her daughter Beatrix. Amsterdam canal cruise That day was marked by violent rioting in Amsterdam. Amsterdam location Under the motto “Geen woning, geen kroning” (No roof over our heads, no crown on yours), squatters and anarchists railed against the new queen’s coronation and the country’s housing crisis.


I was 9, and I sat with my mother watching it all on TV. Amsterdam red light district The smoke bombs and riot police made more of an impression on me than the coronation itself. Amsterdam vodka sizes My father was as unimpressed with the squatters as he was with the queen, and spent the day immersed in his stamp collection.

My parents, German Jews who fled to Holland in the 1930s, were not exactly what you’d call royalists. Amsterdam currency But my mother had a certain weakness for royal families, and especially for the scandals that go hand-in-hand with monarchies.

And when it came to Queen Juliana, my mother got her fill of scandals. Amsterdam language Juliana’s husband, Prince Bernhard, was a notorious philanderer who sired any number of illegitimate children and was accused of accepting bribes from Lockheed in the 1970s, forcing him to surrender his status as inspector general of the Dutch armed forces.

The 33-year reign of Queen Beatrix has been relatively free of scandals. Amsterdam recorder The most significant blot on the royal reputation came when her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, who will succeed Beatrix on Tuesday, married a daughter of Jorge Zorreguieta, who served as Argentina’s deputy minister of agriculture during that country’s military dictatorship and in all probability knew about the systematic disappearances during the “dirty war.”

Another of Beatrix’s sons, Friso — in a coma after a skiing accident in Austria — married Mabel Wisse Smit, a former intimate of the drug lord Klaas Bruinsma, who was murdered in 1991 in front of the Amsterdam Hilton.

Beatrix herself remained above reproach. Amsterdam bar And her husband, Prince Claus, was seen as a moral beacon. Amsterdam opera He made a lasting impression on the Dutch public in 1998, during the presentation of awards to three African fashion designers, by calling on the “workers of the world” to throw off their “shackles,” “the serpent around their necks” — a reference to the necktie.

Riots like those in 1980 will probably not take place during the succession this year. Amsterdam rijksmuseum Squatters in Amsterdam are few and far between these days, and the progressives of 1980 have shown growing appreciation for the royal house. Nh amsterdam barbizon palace This is due in no small measure to Beatrix’s disdain for the Party for Freedom, the extreme right-wing party led by the almost-forgotten politician Geert Wilders. Amsterdam metro Beatrix had little use for Mr. Amsterdam ale house Wilders’s racist, Islamophobic thought.

But beyond expressions of public reproach, the only real political power the queen possessed — the right to appoint the individuals charged with forming a new government — was recently taken from her by parliamentary decree; she played no role whatsoever in the formation of the latest Dutch cabinet.

When NRC Handelsblad, a leading Dutch newspaper, recently described the royal house as “state theater,” it was telling. Amsterdam omaha Indeed, the monarchy these days amounts to little more than a constitutionally compulsory form of performance art.

In that same newspaper, a famous doyenne of the Dutch theater revealed that a few of her colleagues had been discreetly approached with the request to provide the royal family with acting lessons. Amsterdam opera house Those actors, unfortunately, would not to be paid for their services; this job, after all, was an honor.

Today’s advocates of doing away with the monarchy are relatively weak. Amsterdam garden The Socialist Party is too small to wield real clout, and the Netherlands’ Republican Society makes a drowsy and generally fumbling impression. Amsterdam burger That latter observation need hardly come as a surprise: why, after all, would one put any serious effort into opposing performance art?

Perhaps because the remuneration for that performance art is a bit uncommon. Amsterdam journey planner The future king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, receives a tax-free annual salary of over $1 million, as well as a $5.7 million allowance “for the costs of personnel and material expenses.” His wife, Maxima, also receives a minimal tax-free salary of $425,000 and an additional $750,000 or so as compensation for incidental expenses.

Such sums are a bit overdone in a day in which the Netherlands has imposed drastic cuts on government subsidies for other forms of theater. Amsterdam public transportation It does seem old-fashioned of the royal family to try and slip the leash of market mechanisms and meritocracy.

Now that theaters, opera houses and museums cannot exist without sponsors, perhaps it’s time for the Dutch to resign themselves to having a royal family that, during state visits and official occasions, subtly drops the message that this visit was brought to you in part by Royal Dutch Shell. Amsterdam groupon Or Pfizer, for that matter. Amsterdam yoga In these days of globalization, the Dutch royal family shouldn’t necessarily be sponsored only by Dutch enterprises.

And wouldn’t it be nice if, from now on, auditions were held for the roles of king and queen? One could probably find candidates who have far more acting ability than the current royal family and who would also be willing to perform for a fraction of the salary.

Arnon Grunberg, a novelist, is the author of “The Jewish Messiah” and “Tirza.” This essay was translated by Sam Garrett from the Dutch.