Budget Day in the Netherlands: what to expect

The first fans lining the route the Royals will take on Budget Day, 17 September 2019
The first fans lining the route the Royals will take on Budget Day, 17 September 2019. (Photo: Martijn Beekmam/Ministrie van Financien)

Today is Budget Day, or Prinsjesdag, in the Netherlands. This is the official opening of the parliamentary year. King Willem-Alexander will give a speech and the government will present its budget plans for next year. Here's what to expect.

The Royal procession will depart from the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague at around 1:00 p.m. to the Ridderzaal, where King Willem-Alexander will give his speech. The traditional balcony scene, in which the Royal Family waves to the public from the balcony of Noordeinde Palace, will happen at around 2:00 p.m. At 3:00 p.m. Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra will present the suitcase with the budget to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. 

While the Royal family will only head for the Ridderzaal in the afternoon, the first Oranje fans were already waiting in their chosen spot along the route the procession will take at 5:30 a.m. Oscar Meijer has been the first fan to arrive on Budget Day for 37 years, he told NOS on Tuesday morning. He knows its not necessary to get there so early, but he won't get any sleep anyway due to his Prinsjesdag excitement, he said to the broadcaster. 

Like last year, the Royals will make the journey to the Ridderzaal in the Glass Carriage instead of the Golden Carriage, which is unavailable today due to long running restorations. 

Another fun part of Budget Day is the hats worn by the female Ministers and parliamentarians. That tradition was started by VVD celebrity Erica Terpstra. She was the first female parliamentarian to wear a hat while then Queen Juliana gave her speech in September 1977. "It was a cozy, black hat with a wide brim", she told NU.nl. "I studied in Leiden; there it was customary to wear a hat for a festive occasion. It felt very strange to go to the opening of the parliamentary year in my usual garb. Because that is the celebration of democracy. It also felt rude to the queen."

She did not expect to start a tradition that has now spanned 40 years, but is proud of it. "It is of course very nice that the initiative caught on", Terpstra said to the newspaper. "It is a very strange realization that the hat parade is now an almost indispensable part of the Prinsjesdag tradition. I notice that more and more people are starting to wear hats along the route."

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