God save the queen

3 May

Once a year, my country goes crazy. TOTALLY crazy. On April 30th, also known as Queen’s Day, millions of Dutchies dress in orange, get on a boat and party in the name of her Majesty. In fact, it’s not even Queen Beatrix’s Birthday. It was her mom’s. But old habits die hard, and it tends to be rather cold on January 31st (her actual birthday) so April 30th it is and probably shall be for years to come.
I must confess, I am not much of a monarchist. In fact, I think ruling a country based on having so-called blue blood is rather ridiculous, and risky. We’ve been blessed thus far, but picture a scenario where an heir to the throne turns out to be a complete nutter! Then what?
That said, last week proved the power of royalty is still a force to be reckoned with. First, it was the royal wedding. Maybe it was the aftermath of Lady Di’s untimely death, maybe it was desperate need for some good old happy news that made people melt. Only in the United Stated 23 million people watched the proceedings on television. From the Bahamas to Berlin, from Capetown to Connecticut, people across timezones were glued to the screen to witness William and Kate saying “yes”.
John from Kampala in Uganda contacted BBC World Service from the middle of a riot over the treatment of the country’s opposition leader. “Here we are running up and down due to tear gas and shooting,” he said. “But I am listening live at 101.3fm for updates of the royal wedding – I wish I was at Buckingham Palace to experience that once in a lifetime moment.”
And then, the next day, the royal virus caught on in the Netherlands. Tons of people made their way to the capital to join the celebrations: rock stars, red-necks, preppy frat boys, old grannies, farmers, truck drivers, housewives and doctors, Asians, Africans, Arabs and Argentinians, all raising their glass to our Queen B. But not only Amsterdam turned orange. Every village, from North to South, honored the queen with a flea market, fair or other fun. And the queen herself? She went to Limburg, the province where rabid right-winger Wilders gets most of his votes.
That night I went to get some food at a local restaurant. The owner, an older man of Moroccan lineage, was wearing orange from head to toe. “Cause it’s our baby’s birthday!” .

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