Grapperhaus wedding: from ‘exemplary’ to ‘more unbelievable by the minute

From ‘Busted Grappie!’ and ‘Resign!!’ to ‘Little stupid’ and ‘Leave him, it was his marriage’. Opinions on Facebook differ about the photos on which Minister Grapperhaus violates the corona rules during his wedding.

The new photographs, in which Grapperhaus seems to shake hands and embrace his mother-in-law, don’t make things any easier for the minister. This afternoon he has to account for his actions in the House of Representatives. How could a wedding party get the Minister of Justice into such trouble? A reconstruction:

Monday 23 March: Minister Grapperhaus announces in a press conference that people who violate the corona rules will be fined. He denounces people who are “far too close to each other”. “I say it loud and clear: this is a sloppy, laconic and therefore anti-social way of dealing with measures. It costs lives. Unnecessary.”

He also uses that kind of harsh words in later press conferences. On 22 July, he warned that people should not let their behaviour slacken. “Not even if you’re sitting on a beach this summer, visiting an amusement park with your children or ordering a good glass of wine on a terrace” As for the other half-measure, he says, “I won’t compromise on that.”

Saturday 22 August : The wedding of Grapperhaus and Liesbeth Wytzes in Bloemendaal. It will be performed by State Secretary for Justice and Security Ankie Broekers-Knol. Media report briefly two days later that the wedding took place in the North Holland seaside resort

Wednesday 26 August: Privately, four days after the wedding, the ‘exclusive’ photographs, taken by society photographer Ferry de Kok, will be published. According to the accompanying article, the corona rules were observed in an exemplary manner: “In recent months Grapperhaus and his children regularly met, preferably in the garden at a distance of one and a half meters. The fact that Minister Grapperhaus also respected the corona rules at his wedding last Saturday, was therefore no surprise to those around him”

In the evening, SBS6’s Shownieuws programme shows images of the wedding, also made by photographer Ferry de Kok. It shows that the 35 wedding guests did not all respect the other half meter rule all the time. Grapperhaus responds the next day. He says on Twitter that he regrets “that there were moments where the 1.5 meter distance was not respected”.

Friday 28 August: Prime Minister Rutte acknowledges that things went wrong at Grapperhaus’ wedding, but he doesn’t think the minister’s credibility is at stake. He also reports that Grapperhaus, as atonement for his wife and himself, has twice transferred the coronation sum of 390 euros to the Red Cross

Most parties in the Lower House agree that Grapperhaus expressed regret, and there is sympathy for the minister. “Everyone understands that people sometimes go wrong with the meter and a half,” says SP Member of Parliament Maarten Hijink. Grapperhaus’ party colleague Hugo de Jonge still calls his fellow minister “very credible”. Only Femke Merel van Kooten-Arissen, who forms a one-man faction, asks questions in Parliament.

There are also other reactions, such as that of a lawyer who thinks there should be a general pardon for all corona fines after Grapperhaus’ mistake. Columnist Marianne Zwagerman pleads in De CCeit for letting go of the corona-measures (‘Let us go, Ferd’). And the Trouwbranche, an alliance of betting professionals, says that “even with the best will in the world, 1.5 meters cannot be done”.

Monday 31 August: President Gerrits of the trade union BOA ACP announces that extraordinary investigators (boas) write less corona fines because of the commotion about the wedding of Minister Grapperhaus. “It is complicated to explain why people can get a coronation fine if the minister responsible does not abide by the rules himself,” said Gerrits. Grapperhaus reacts the same day and says he wants to talk to the boas and police unions to be held accountable.

Tuesday, September 1: The House decides to discuss the coronavirus measures with the Cabinet on September 2. In the debate, attention will also be paid to the breaking of the rules on Grapperhaus’ marriage. Besides Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge, Grapperhaus must also be present. In the afternoon, the CCeit reports that two of Grapperhaus’ four children had the coronavirus in July. The minister’s children were present at the wedding. In the evening Shownieuws shows new pictures of the wedding, again made by photographer Ferry de Kok. It shows that the minister violated more corona-rules than just the other half-measure. According to the program he would embrace his mother-in-law. De Kok says on Radio 538 that he still has “hundreds of pictures” of the wedding, on which things can be seen “in the same vein”. He deliberately says not to publish all the pictures at once. “If I throw out all the photos at once, I only earn once.”

The reactions of the opposition are now a lot fiercer. Group chairman Thierry Baudet of Forum for Democracy speaks of class justice. According to PVV leader Geert Wilders, the position of Grapperhaus becomes “more and more unbelievable by the minute”.

The SP and GroenLinks also say that it is a different story than last week. “Making a mistake and being too close to someone else can happen to all of us. But you just don’t shake hands, certainly not as Minister of Justice. It was the first meeting we all made in March,” says GreenLeft leader Jesse Klaver.