Published On: Mon, Apr 28th, 2014

To be, or not to be a drag-queen

Jacob Gelt DekkerWillem Alexander, the new Dutch King, stood as a child on the steps of grandmother Queen Juliana’s Palace, a 17th century former hunting lodge in Soestdijk, of Cornelis de Graaf, Mayor of Amsterdam. Annually, from the platform, atop the palatial front steps, the entire Royal family reviewed hour-long parades of thousands of humble subjects, dressed in their Sunday best or folklore, on the Queen’s birthday.

The tradition started in the time of Queen Emma in the late 1800’s. Initially, it held the middle between an ode to the divinely appointed Head of State and displaying to the Monarch the best and brightest the Kingdom had to offer. Although The Netherlands had become a constitutional monarchy in 1830, democracy was solidly based on meritocracy and had to be applauded on royal occasions, no matter how parochial.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands still celebrates an annual national holiday, which date coincides with the birthday of the Head of State. Although former Queen Beatrix had her birthday on the 30th of January, the celebration was moved to the 30th of April--- her mother, Queen Juliana’s birthday---for many reasons. The new King prefers 27 April, his biological birthday.

Beatrix stopped the popular Soestdijk-parade tradition and started outings with her family to vary cities and towns. The National Holiday Party became one, dominated by the lowest denominator, a feast of egalitarianism, with large masses, all dressed in orange drab, mostly drunk, exuberant, and silly children’s games. Amsterdam added a free market, allowing citizens to clean out surplus from their attics and cellars.

While orange bitter liqueur and beer flows freely, celebration of merit continues somewhat with an annual shower of royal decorations, but always behind closed doors, in dignified civil ceremonies, and never attended by any member of the Royal family.

Over the years, the outdoor Queen/King’s Day celebrations evolved into carnivalesque exuberance. Unintentionally, it even gave birth to extravagant drag-queen exhibitionism in Amsterdam, which culminated in the birth of Gay Parade, a massive copycat Queen’s Day celebration in August.

The new king is now confused not having any distinct identity of his own. His New Majesty is still titter-tottering between his predecessors’ elitism, with parades of the best and the bravest the nation had to offer, no matter how parochial, and his mother’s massive egalitarianism.

For the moment, His Majesty seems to feel comfortable celebrating the national holiday with silly children’s activities in a little town, like Amstelveen.

What choice does the Monarch have?? Does the nation want to see their King and Head of State in orange, may be, playing volleyball, tennis or as a drag queen, or will he be able to refocus the massive spring street party to something a bit more constructive?

A revival of the parochial, once elite, parades at Soestdijk is no option, the merit-based elite of today is no longer ready to scuffle in awe past their Monarch as humble subjects. Continuing the egalitarian drunken street parties, more and more gravitating towards football-like hooliganism, can only mean more moral deterioration and is not worthy any Head of State.

It will take courage and leadership to launch a new concept. Good luck Your Majesty!

Jacob Gelt Dekker is an opinion writer for Curacao Chronicle.

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