Royal Family celebrate King's 50th birthday in Tilburg

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima with their daughters (left to right) Amalia, Ariane and Alexia, 27 Apr 2017
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima with their daughters (left to right) Amalia, Ariane and Alexia, 27 Apr 2017Photo: RVD

King Willem-Alexander and his family spent King's Day in Tilburg today. The city organized a number of activities, including performances and artworks, to celebrate the Dutch King's 50th birthday.

The King really enjoyed the day in Tilburg, he said to reporter Dionne Stax after the festivities. "I feel happy. This is a beautiful King's Day. It could not have been any better." After returning home from Tilburg, King Willem-Alexander will continue the birthday celebrations with his wife and daughters. "We take that time for ourselves." He doesn't yet know what his gift will be. Queen Maxima also called it a beautiful day. "We all loved it. The children don't have enough hands to shake everyoe's hand."

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and princesses Amalia, Ariane and Alexia were met by a crowded platform when they arrived at Tilburg station by train shortly after 11:00 a.m.. Mayor Peter Noordanus and Commissioner of the King in Noord-Brabant Wim van den Donk greeted them while 77 Tilburg choirs sang a welcome song, according to AD's live blog. The queen and princesses were given a special bouquet made of sustainable jean material 013denim. The princesses each also received a bracelet made of the same material. They then continued on  to a performance by drumming bands, drag queens and Carnival revelers. 

The next stop for the Royals was the Tilburg Discovery Station - where kids are introduced to technology in a playful manner. The King helped turn on a machine and the Queen and princesses explored a bit. Then followed a sporty demonstration with freerunners and climbers, among other things. Princess Amalia participated by scoring a basketball goal. The King was presented with a bust in his likeness, made completely of chocolate, before the Royal family attended a concert with 50 pianos. They then watched a parade and performance in which Tilburg and surrounding municipalities showed off a bit of their art and character. 

The party ended with the "Slotevent" on the Piusplein around 1:00 p.m. This included speeches and performances from Dutch celebrities including Guus Meeuwis, Gers Pardoel, Kenny B and Roy Donders. The royal family was pulled on stage. "You have shown what this city can do", the King said. "This city has a past, present and crazy future. It was amazing to celebrate my birthday with you."

A large number of police officers in uniform and in civilian clothing were spread through the crowd for extra security. Road blocks were set up along the route the Royal family would take. Despite the extra security, the Royal family seemed calm and relaxed. King Willem-Alexander is known as a king who likes to include the public, according to Royal House expert Rick Evers. "Willem-Alexander finds himself half in between the public. Much more so than Beatrix did, who never really went to the public. She stayed in the middle of the road, waving a bit. Willem-Alexander really is a King among the people", he said to Omroep Brabant.

That could again be seen today, also from the King's wife and children. There were many handshakes, smiles and chats, including from the young princesses.

Other members of the Royal family also celebrated the King's birthday in Tilburg, including princess Marilene, prince Maurits, princess Laurentien and prince Constantijn.

Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands in terms of population. It is an industrial city especially known for its textiles. But it is also a student city and a place where people love the "Burgundian good life", according to the municipality. 

The mayor said in advance that some 70 thousand visitors are expected to attend the King's Day festivities, but that the city prepared to handle up to 90 thousand.