King’s Day

Koningsdag () or King’s Day is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Celebrated on 27 April (26 April if the 27th falls on a Sunday), the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. From 1890 to 2013, the day was known as Koninginnedag () or Queen’s Day. The holiday was first observed on 31 August 1885 as Prinsessedag or Princess’s Day, the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, heir to the Dutch throne. On her accession, the holiday acquired the name Koninginnedag. When held on 31 August the holiday was the final day of school summer vacation, leading to its popularity among children. Following the accession of Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana in 1948, the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday on 30 April. Her daughter, Beatrix retained the celebration on 30 April after she ascended the throne in 1980, despite her actual birthday occurring on 31 January. Beatrix altered her mother’s custom of receiving a floral parade near a Royal palace, instead choosing to visit different Dutch towns each year and join in the festivities along with her sons. In 2009, the Queen was carrying out this custom in the city of Apeldoorn when Karst Tates attempted to attack her by trying to ram at the Royal family’s bus with his car; instead he drove into a crowd of people who were watching the parade, and fatally crashed into a monument. Seven people in the crowd were killed, and the car’s driver also died soon afterwards. Queen Beatrix abdicated on Koninginnedag 2013 which led to the accession of the first King since the observance of the national holiday, King Willem-Alexander. As a result, the holiday became known as Koningsdag from 2014 and the celebration was shifted three days ahead to 27 April, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. Koningsdag is known for its nationwide vrijmarkt (“free market”), at which many Dutch people sell their secondhand items. It is also an opportunity for “orange madness” or oranjegekte, for the national colour, when the normally strait-laced Dutch let down their hair, often dyed orange for the occasion.