The King’s speech

Queen Maxima
Queen Maxima

Today is Prinsjesdag: the day His Majesty the King reads the speech that outlines government policies for the year ahead. It is an important event, both political and economical, with a rich history.

Prinsjesdag, always on the third Tuesday of September, marks the start of the parliamentary year. The King, in his capacity as Head of State, delivers the so-called ‘King's Speech’ to the members of Cabinet, Council of State and both chambers of parliament. Subsequently, the Minister of Finance presents his famous 'Third-Tuesday-of-September'-briefcase to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This briefcase contains the Budget Memorandum and the National Budget.

New government plans
King Willem-Alexander, in the Hall of Knights in the Binnenhof in The Hague, will speak on behalf of the Dutch government. He does not write the text on the new government plans himself; the ministers do. Every one of them makes a contribution in his or her field of policy, which are integrated into one speech by the Prime Minister.

Loyal to the royal
Originally meant to celebrate the birthday of Prince William V on 8 March, in the 18th century Prinsjesdag was one of the country's most popular public holidays. The historical pomp and circumstance is still very much part of it. Between 1780 and 1797 – known as the Patriot era, leading up to the Batavian Revolution – this was the day used for demonstrations of loyalty to the House of Orange. That is probably why the current name was chosen in the 19th century for the ceremonial opening of parliament.

Third Tuesday in September
The constitution states that the opening of parliament should take place on a fixed date. In the first half of the 19th century this was the first Monday in November, and then changed to the third Monday in October. But since not enough time was left to discuss the annual budgets before the 1st of January, Prinsjesdag in 1848 was advanced to September. Also Monday turned out to be inappropriate, because many parliamentarians in distant parts of the country needed to leave their homes on Sunday to make it to The Hague in time. Therefore in 1887 Prinsjesdag was moved to the Tuesday.