July 23, 2016

King’s palace open to public for the first time

Filed under: Dutch first,History by Orangemaster @ 3:09 pm

Screen shot 2016-07-23 at 3.08.07 PM

On Saturday 23 July and the next two Saturdays after that, the palace of Noordeinde where the King and his family live, will open its doors to the public for the very first time. The public will be able to see a number of areas, such as the Grand Ballroom, with its gold chandeliers and marble walls. The rooms also feature the royal family’s impressive art collection and antiques.

As of 26 July and for four days in the week, the royal stables will also be included in the tour, where visitors will be able to see the family’s horse-drawn carriages. The visit will costs 6 euro because if they didn’t charge anything people wouldn’t come, according to the reasoning of the Netherlands Government Information Service (AIVD).

Although the palace being open is very special, its Princess’ Garden is accessible daily for free.

(Links: www.omroepwest.nl, us.hellomagazine.com, Photo: Twitter screenshot)

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April 27, 2016

Alternative King’s Song by Truus de Groot

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 11:02 am

kings-song-truus-de-grootTo celebrate Willem-Alexander’s inauguration as king of the Netherlands in 2013 a song was commissioned, the King’s Song, which turned out to be quite the disaster. The committee of wise people asked to initiate the festivities decided that everybody and their dog should be in the song and as a result, the song became a hodgepodge of ill-fitting and often downright ungrammatical phrases.

Truus de Groot felt the song was “rather dreary” and chose to write her own version. De Groot, a Dutch experimental musician living in the US, is known for playing the kraakdoos. In the late 1970s she was a member of the Foolsband, which would later become famous under the name Doe Maar.

(Photo: crop of a frame of the video)

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September 15, 2014

Man steals piece of royal carriage, owns up 50 years later

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 10:02 am

golden-carriage-zoetnetIn 1955 fireman Cor Priele and two colleagues had to guard the Golden Carriage which was on display in Rotterdam at the time.

Guard duty must have been boring. The firemen, Poot, Smaal and Priele, started using the royal carriage as a room to sit in and even to play tag around. That’s where things went south. Priele’s boot got caught behind the royal bench and a golden string broke off.

The three guards decided not to tell anyone because it would mean they would get fired on the spot. “I was very, very scared”, the former fireman from Sleeuwijk, Noord-Brabant told Omroep Brabant. He took the string home and kept it in an empty jam jar.

But this year, 50 years after the heinous deed and with both of his colleagues deceased, 83-year-old Priele decided to make amends. He wrote King Willem-Alexander a letter explaining what happened and offered both his apologies and the return of the royal, golden string.

The Golden Carriage was built in 1898 by the Spyker brothers (even before they started making motor cars) as a gift from the citizens of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina on the occasion of her ascension to the Dutch throne. Citizens of Amsterdam chipped in 25 cents each.

It is as yet unknown whether the King has taken Priele up on his offer or not.

(Photo by Zoetnet, some rights reserved)

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November 4, 2013

Erwin Olaf’s euro coin criticized for cheap typography

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 2:35 pm

Erwin Olaf is a kick-ass photographer, but does that make him a good coin designer? The Netherlands do have to uphold a reputation in this respect.

When Willem-Alexander became king of the Netherlands the need arose to design new coins. The job was given to Mr Olaf this time around. He seems to have done a respectable job, except for the lettering. Fonts In Use says: “It’s highly questionable whether such a bold wide retro-futuristic letterstyle in mixed case is suited for the medium and the topic—and whether it had to be a font (as distinguished from custom lettering) in the first place.”

The alleged lettering.

Mr Olaf used a free font he found on the web called Days, which is according to a commenter over at Fonts In Use “a display typeface meant for use in large sizes.”

The choice for an off-the-shelf type is also remarkable when contrasted with the fact that the country “today has more type designers per capita than any other country in the world, a remarkable fact considering that there is now not one surviving Dutch type foundry”, typographer Gerard Unger is quoted as saying on Typotheque.

See also:

(Illustrations: Fonts In Use)

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April 28, 2013

Amsterdam keeps track of ‘lonely loonies’ for inauguration

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 5:23 pm

The police of Amsterdam has made a list of all the ‘crazies’ it suspects might disrupt the inauguration of King Willem Alexander next Tuesday, nu.nl reports.

The news site quotes TV news show Eva Jinek op Zondag which interviewed Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. The mayor said that there are people roaming the city with psychological problems: “They are all right most of the time, but sometimes have psychotic episodes and then blame the royal house for everything. A day like next Tuesday is like a magnet for them.”

“There are not that many of them. The police has plans for help and supervision for every one of them.” The mayor is not considering preventative detainment. “But if any of these people still have prison time left from previous convictions, it would be useful if they could serve a day on 30 April.”

On Tuesday 30 April, Queen Beatrix will abdicate and her oldest son Willem Alexander will ascend the throne. The inauguration ceremony will take place in Amsterdam.

(Photo of the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, by the Dutch government, via Wikimedia Commons. Yes, I know what you were thinking. No, he is not one of the crazies. At least, not officially.)

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April 25, 2013

Song for the new king meets with heavy resistance

Filed under: Literature,Music by Branko Collin @ 10:30 am

On 30 April Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands will be inaugurated as king of the country.

The government decided on three things to mark the occasion: a book of dreams, King’s Games for elementary school pupils and a King’s Song. The latter would be written by accomplished song smith John Ewbank based on verses people from all over the kingdom had sent in via Twitter and other channels.

The Moderate Voice says of the result:

The King’s Song is, in my opinion, a delightful mix of musical genres — including traditional Dutch music and (Dutch) rap — lyrics and video contributed by Dutch artists and citizens alike and put together and performed by a score of Holland’s finest artists and musicians. It displays the diversity and the beauty of today’s Dutch people, it reflects — in the lyrics — Dutch history, traditions and struggles, such as the constant fight against the sea and the vocals are soft and melodic — something that can be difficult to accomplish with the somewhat guttural Dutch language.

Problem is, the Dutch people don’t like the song! Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition that says—in jest, one presumes and hopes—that they will renounce their citizenship if the government persists in its unholy idea to have the song sung to the prince. Linguists were dragged into the spotlight to highlight the many ills of the song; then other linguists stepped up and said there is nothing wrong with the song—linguistically speaking.

Meanwhile hateful messages aimed at Ewbank kept piling up on Twitter and at some point the author of a record number of 18 Dutch number one hits decided to withdraw the song, leaving behind a flabbergasted country—how does one withdraw a song?

So what are these mistakes Ewbank supposedly made? For one thing the song is incredibly schmaltzy. In it, the prince protects citizens against the elements—“I will build a dyke with my bare hands and will keep you away from the water”—or the other way around, the whole thing is unclear. Keeping the Dutch away from water; has the narrator gone mad?

In my opinion the problem with the song is that it is just not beautiful. You could argue whether this is due to shaky grammar, ambiguous language or to trite metaphors, or even all of the above. The song feels like Ewbank phoned it in and my guess is that a broad section of the population felt the same way.

The sentence that is the banner for all who dislike the song and that has been parodied countless times the past few days is “de dag die je wist dat zou komen is eindelijk hier”. Translated literally it means “the day you knew that would come has finally arrived.” It’s not grammatically wrong, but it uses such an unusual construction that it makes the brain sit up and pay attention to the grammar of the song all of a sudden.

Saying that the people’s objections are about grammar helps to make the problem quantifiable. You can drag linguists in front of TV lights and have them say “this, then.” And if you are a talentless newspaper columnist, it helps you in blaming a nebulous ‘cultural elite’ who ‘obviously’ care more about how a song is spelled than what it tries to express.

And what if you’re the minister responsible for this mess? Jet Bussemaker, Minister for Education, unwithdrew* the song yesterday and declared it shall be sung to the new king, but with any grammatical errors removed. Later a spokesperson for the minister said she had meant it as a joke, NRC reports.

You can find the song at YouTube.

*) Yes, I have to make up words just so that I can tell you what’s going on.

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April 16, 2013

Thom Roep quits as Donald Duck editor after 39 years

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 2:14 pm

Comics writer Thom Roep (61) has announced in an interview with nu.nl that he will quit as Editor-in-Chief of one of the country’s most successful magazines of the past 50 years, Donald Duck.

Roep said the growing importance of the Internet for the franchise was his reason for leaving. All the major Disney characters have Dutch Twitter accounts and Roep feels that “it is no longer credible that I lead a team that is concerned with, and enthusiastic about, things that just do not mean as much to me. I am so old-fashioned that I read tweets from paper. I am a paper man. That is why it is time for a younger person to take over, somebody who is interested in the digital side of things. I do not want to be a pretender.”

Donald Duck was founded in 1952 as a weekly when other countries already had Disney magazines. The magazine managed to sell at least 300,000 issues each week until recently, mainly because it relies on subscriptions. Roep thinks its success stems from the fact that “[the magazine] is passed from generation to generation. Parents want to give their children the same pleasant childhood memories as they had. Let’s be honest though: if the magazine did not exist and it was started now, it would not manage to sell 10% of what we sell now. Would a white duck in a sailor suit be successful?”

Sales figures have been dropping—currently they are at 278,000 issues—and publisher Sanoma have been producing themed issues to get more advertisers on board. Today a special issue about the inauguration of the new king was released (see illustration). It contains a story, Abduckation, that according to Roep refers to a famous saying that was popular around the time Beatrix became queen. I am guessing this refers to ‘geen woning, geen kroning’ (no coronation when there is a shortage of houses), the slogan under which squatters disrupted Beatrix’s inauguration.

Roep wants to return to writing comics. In the past he has written the Douwe Dabbert series which was drawn by Piet Wijn.

See also: Students prefer Donald Duck magazine over serious newspaper.

Disclaimer: I have written stories for Donald Duck magazine.

(Image: Donald Duck)

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April 7, 2013

Anti-monarchal society almost doubles in size

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:23 pm

One of the two Dutch republican societies has seen an increase in membership from 1200 to 2000 since January, AD writes.

The Nieuw Republikeins Genootschap (New Republican Society) wants to replace the Dutch hereditary monarchy by a republic with an elected head of state. It was founded in 1998 in response to the existing Republikeins Genootschap which only admits new members through co-option and which believes that merely existing is enough to bring about the republic.

The society expects that the large increase in members is due to the ‘hype’ surrounding the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the ascension to the throne of her son Willem Alexander on 30 April.

According to TNS Nipo the monarchy continues to enjoy strong support among the Dutch. In 2011 a whopping 87% of the population supported the monarchy, 4 percentage points down from 1961, but 6 percentage points up from 2003.

The Netherlands was a republic from 1581 until 1806 at which point Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother king of the country. After Napoleon was defeted at Waterloo in 1815, Willem Frederik of Orange-Nassau became King Willem I of the Netherlands. Since then the country has been a monarchy.

(Photo: statue of William the Silent, he who both led the Dutch revolution that started the republic and who started the house of Orange-Nassau.)

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February 4, 2013

What the Dutch have against their queen and more royal news

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:31 am

After Queen Beatrix announced her abdication, the entire Dutch web was trying to find royal angles for their stories.

Phonology professor Marc van Oostendorp points out how un-Dutch the word for queen, koningin, is and how people subconsciously try to avoid pronouncing it the correct way, koa-ning-in. According to Van Oostendorp, the ng-sound is never followed by a stressed syllable in Dutch. Words like tango and bingo (borrowed from Spanish and American English respectively) are pronounced tang-go and bing-go.

That leaves the female form of koning in an awkward position. The word for a female role is often produced by taking the male or generic form and adding ‘-in’ to it—Van Oostendorp gives boerin (farmer) and bazin (boss) as examples. But with koning+in this leads to a problem, because the combination is un-Dutch. The result is that we, the rabble, sharpen our linguistic pitchforks and guillotines and cut the title of one of our most beloved figures to ribbons. The word becomes koa-ni-xin or even koa-ni-gin (x is like the ch in loch, but voiced).

Things could be worse. When Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother Louis king of a conquered Netherlands, the new king tried to speak Dutch, but he wasn’t (yet) very good at it. The story goes that he accidentally called himself Konijn van ‘olland, rabbit of Holland.

Did you know that when Willem-Alexander becomes king, he will not be crowned? This is because crowning symbolizes a divine right to rule, whereas in the Netherlands, the people confer that right, which makes sense because we built this land, not the gods. To be honest I did not know this either.

According to NRC, this tradition has religious roots. It was the Protestants that protested a coronation, as they considered it too Catholic. The article further lists the following titbits:

  • The abdication will take place at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, the inauguration at the New Church (1600, next door).
  • Princess Máxima’s family will not be present (her father was a member of the Argentinian junta in the 1970s-1980s).
  • Titles: King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, Princess of Orange Amalia Beatrix.
  • Fresh euro coins and stamps will have Willem-Alexander’s portrait on them (the old ones will still be valid). The names of naval vessels will be prefixed ZM instead of HM (Zijne Majesteit).
  • The King and Queen will move to one of palaces in The Hague, Huis ten Bosch. Currently Queen Beatrix lives there; she will move back to her old bachelor pad Castle Drakensteyn (‘dragonstone’) between Utrecht, Hilversum and Amersfoort—a house she bought when she was young.
  • The children of Princes Magriet and Prince Constantijn will no longer be members of the royal family after 30 April. The paper has a handy infographic explaining the line of succession.

Trendbeheer reports that Ad van Hassel has already made a state portrait of the future king. “Since Van Hassel did not have a suitable photo of the prince, he went to Madam Tussaud’s to use the wax statue of the prince as a model.” Filed under ‘the alternative circuit’.

Bright writes that there has been a rush on royal domain names. Last Monday twice as many domain names than usual were registered. Koningsdag2013.nl up to koningsdag2030.nl have all been registered. The RVD (Netherlands Government Information Service) can try and expropriate domain names through the courts if the names are likely to confuse visitors about who is behind a site.

(Photo by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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