The King’s day: When the sober Dutch go all-out

King's day: th Dutch go all-out

Kings’s Day. A special day in the Netherlands. It’s the King’s birthday, celebrated in a very special way. Since I can remember, every monarch the Netherlands have had during my time celebrated it in his or her own way. But Queen Juliana, Queen Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander have one thing in common: their birthday had to be a celebration of and with the people of the Netherlands. Where Queen Juliana celebrated in her garden at the Royal Palace in Soestdijk, Beatrix started going places and visited two different towns every year on Queens Day.

The King also goes places on King’s day, but he gave it his own touch. He celebrates his birthday in a different place in the Netherlands every year. This year, he was invited to celebrate in Maastricht. The preparations have taken much time and energy, and the disappointment was great when the coronavirus put paid to the plans.

Still, the resilient Dutch won’t let a virus steal their party, and this year’s Kings day, ‘Koningsdag’ in Dutch, was transformed in what is called ‘Woningsdag’, which means ‘home day’. All kinds of activities have been invented, most of them online, to still give a festive touch to a special day.

The festivities have started with the Concertgebouworkest, one of the most famous Dutch orchestras, playing an online version of the Dutch National Anthem. People who can play an instrument were invited to stand in an open window and play along, and people without an instrument were asked to sing along. It must have been a moving and impressive moment for anyone listening. From afar, we can join in and listen to the Youtube registration, followed by the King addressing the Dutch and honouring those working in health care.

Instead of the traditional street festivities, jumble markets, and special concerts, a web site has been put together showing the home activities people invented for King’s day, encouraging everyone to make a video of their own way of celebrating and uploading it in the website.

Instead of the many concerts and parties on a normal King’s day, there is a Youtube live stream keeping us entertained all day with all kinds of artists performing, private initiatives and many surprise performances! All are fantastic initiatives, showing people’s creativity in these difficult times. The live stream can’t be shared, but if you like, you can watch it on the website above.

We were very pleasantly surprised to see how our royal Family managed to mingle with the Dutch people online. Very impressed to see how they interact with people and really don’t want any straightjacket-like protocol to limit their behaviour. Have fun watching it, even if you don’t understand a word. Make sure and play it full-screen. It looks like His Majesty has deliberately not had his hair cut.

Usually, the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands invite all the Dutch residing on Madeira for a cocktail party at the Porto Mare Hotel in Funchal. Of course, this can’t take place this year, so Noud and I have started celebrating yesterday, making a special poncha: poncha de pitanga, using the pitangas from our tiny shrub in the garden (helped by some more pitangas from yesterday’s farmer’s market). The colour is orange-ish, which belongs to our royal family, as the first to become ruler of the independent Netherlands (after kicking the Spanish out) was Willem, Prince of Orange, not the fruit, but a city in Southern France. He was the founder of today’s Dutch Royal Family, the Huis van Oranje, the House of Orange. Whenever a member of the Royal House celebrates his or her birthday, the Dutch Flag is accompanied by an orange pennant.

Meanwhile, we stay at home, making the most of the King’s day 2020. Happy birthday to our King Willem Alexander!


By Peter Groen

Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1949. He has a history in PR and copywriting. Now, part time resident of the Island of Madeira of over 10 years, he writes about Madeira, its culture, its overwhelming nature, its food and drink, and about everything concerning travel to and on this beautiful island.


  1. Hallo lezers,

    Is er een Nederlandse gemeenschap op Madeira die ook dit jaar nog iets organiseert? Ik ben sinds November op Madeira en ben wel in voor een Oranje feestje en om weer eens Nederlands te praten.

    1. Há Randy, gezien de coronabeperkingen zal de cocktailparty op het Nederlands consulaat dit jaar ook wel niet doorgaan. Feestjes en samenkomsten zijn nog niet toegestaan en momenteel ook niet verstandig. Heb je gezien dat de site en het blog een een Nederlandse editie hebben? Dit is het Engelstalig deel, daar zul je minder Nederlandse lezers bereiken.

      1. Hallo Peter,

        Dank u wel voor uw snelle reactie. Nee ik had dat nog niet gezien. Ja ik had al zoiets vernomen mbt het consulaat. Dank u, en alvast een fijne koningsdag

          1. Dank Peter.

            Ik sta hier overal al ingeschreven dus ga er vanuit dat zij ervan weten.

            Bedankt voor uw bericht

            1. niet automatisch. Ik zou ze een mailtje sturen, dan zit je in hun registratie en krijg je ook een uitnodiging als er weer een cocktail is. Je doet in principe met Graça zaken, zij is de secretaresse en regelt alles. Spreekt aardig Engels maar natuurlijk geen Nederlands. Maar hopelijk spreek je al Portugees, dan kun je niet meer kapot bij haar en doet ze alles voor je. 😀

              1. Hahaha, nou mijn Portugees kan beter maar ik ga het proberen. Dank u wel.
                Ik zal direct mailen.

  2. Happy Koningsdag . Really enjoyed reading all about this thank you Jan. Oh to celebrate anything with my family!!!

    1. Oh to celebrate anything with my family!!!

      I am afraid celebrating with your family will be a little while yet, Jan! Glad you enjoyed the read.

    2. You may want to have another look at the article, Jan. I just found – and added – a lovely video showing the Royal Family mingling ‘virtually’ with various people throughout the Netherlands. Typical for their behaviour. Simply a modern time family having fun and interacting with people.

  3. Beautiful! Love to hear about people’s histories and traditions. Thank you for sharing! And of course when we are free another reason to celebrate!!

    1. another reason to celebrate

      Ha! Annie, did we ever need one? But whatever the reason, seeing each other will be enough reason to celebrate by then.

    2. You may want to have another look at the article, Annie. I just found – and added – a lovely video showing the Royal Family mingling ‘virtually’ with various people throughout the Netherlands. Typical for their behaviour. Simply a modern time family having fun and interacting with people.

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