The Prime Minister will miss it all very much next Tuesday; the royal driving tour with the Glass Coach, the balcony scene and those school classes and Orange fans along the route from the Head of State to the Knights Hall.
All festivities on Prinsjesdag have been cancelled for the first time in the history of the programme. “The coronavirus is forcing us all to make major changes,” said Rutte at his last press conference for the third Tuesday in September. “It will be a Princes Day without the traditional splendour and pole and I regret that
Hope that the public stays away
The organisation, mainly in the hands of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and the municipality of The Hague, does not want to take any risks. After all, it would be a disgrace if, by holding a major event, politicians themselves were responsible for a corona outbreak.
Thats why it was decided as early as July not to organise massive crowd-pullers, such as the driving tour and the balcony scene at Noordeinde Palace. All in the hope that the public will stay away.
For the reading of the Speech from the Throne by the king and queen arriving by car, he has moved from the Knights Hall, which is too small, to the Grote Kerk, which lives up to his name.
Everything happens outside the eye of the curious public, both the Binnenhof and the Grote Kerk are cordoned off with large screens. “This year, everyone can better watch Prinsjesdag on television”, the mayor of The Hague advised as early as July.
Take a look at the traditional splendour on a normal Prinsjesdag, the one from 2019
Corona anxiety is well established in some political parties. The organisation has striped three quarters of the usual invitees off the guest list in order to be able to put all the chairs on one and a half metres and make the event completely corona-robbed. Even the State Secretaries are not physically allowed to attend. “They will have to follow it all online,” says Rutte.
Still, about half of the VVD group, some ten to fifteen people including group chairman Dijkhoff, remain away from the Grote Kerk, and most SP MPs join in. “Politics must set a good example, certainly when it comes to corona,” says the spokesman of SP party leader Marijnissen, who is coming himself, by the way.
The other parties are also going, as it stands now. Members of Parliament stress that the opening of the parliamentary year is work and not necessarily a random party. And that is also the opinion of the most important organiser, the chairman of the Upper House, Bruijn. “It is an important moment, it is a joint meeting of the States General
In the bus with special mouth cap
Some Members of Parliament are transported to the Grote Kerk by vans to prevent a new crowd puller; a walking procession of Members of Parliament wearing hats and party clothes. Mouth caps are compulsory on the bus, although they have been specially designed for this day.
Nevertheless, next Tuesday the public will be able to see all kinds of members of parliament walking towards the Grote Kerk. MPs from the Party for the Animals, Forum for Democracy (FvD) and Marijnissen from the SP are more in the mood for a walk, it might be 30 degrees. “Wed rather walk than sit in a bus with a mouth cap,” says the spokesman for FvD leader Baudet.