King Willem-Alexander's Christmas speech: full text and video
Below follows the full text of King Willem-Alexander's annual Christmas speech for 2019, translated from Dutch. The NL Times has also written about the address, in comparison to his previous Christmas Day speeches.
The Dutch can differ enormously from each other. But those who ask people why they feel connected with the Netherlands, often get the same answers spontaneously.
Our Dutch language, our democracy, the equality of everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, standing together against the water, the holidays that we celebrate together, the gezelligheid...
And there is one word that comes back time and again: freedom. Freedom is the flame that burns in all Dutch hearts. That sounds poetic, but it does justice to what I see around me.
I notice how intensely that freedom is experienced. Now that we are considering 75 years of freedom, I meet many people who tell me what that understanding means to them.
Resistance fighters in their nineties who fought for it in the war. They put everything at stake. Their life is marked by it.
But also young people. They are happy to live in a free country.
Freedom is never free. She always demands something from us: trust in each other, reasonableness, the willingness to give each other space. Everyone who delves into what freedom is, understands why tolerance is so important. If we start threatening people with a different opinion, we undermine exactly what we hold dear.
To be free, we must allow the transverse thinking. In ourselves and with others.
Freedom also irrevocably means: making choices. In our own life and together. That is difficult, but we do our best. No matter how sharp the contradictions are, it is always possible to find solutions. That skill to talk to each other and sometimes to make compromises, we will need very much in the coming time.
A bit of distance also helps to see things in perspective.
Many compatriots who live abroad discover with retroactive effect how well our country is organized. The Netherlands is still one of the most successful countries in the world. Behind that success are people like you and you. Millions of professionals and volunteers who make the best of things together in difficult circumstances.
Teachers, police officers, doctors and nursers.
Farmers, builders and biologists.
Even though the emotions can sometimes run high, the Dutch still have the feeling that they belong together. That is our great strength. It not only contributes to a country that performs well, but also to a country where people are on average happy.
In these days of the year, now that Christmas brings some peace to the hectic pace of everyday life, doubts can also arise. "Am I doing well?" "Do I make the right choices?" "Am I really happy?"
That pursuit of happiness is beautiful, but it should not become an obsession.
Grief may also be there. Doubts and feelings of loneliness may also be there. Failures and setbacks are also part of life.
In the pursuit of happiness, we can sometimes pass ourselves by. As free people, we want to get the best out of life, and blame ourselves if that doesn't work out. We mirror ourselves to others, set the bar high and like to present a perfect version of ourselves to the outside word.
As if there is a taboo on uncertainty an shortcomings.
But nobody is perfect.
I also say this to young people. Do not worry too much if things go wrong. Give yourself some space. It's okay.
Happiness cannot be forced. It is elusive. It comes suddenly, like a gift from heaven.
When we think about what makes us most happy, almost everyone gives the same answer: the people around me. Family and friends, but also people you might hardly know and who are just nice to you.
Happiness is in our connection with others. Let us therefore not let each other go. Let us listen to each other and show understanding. Let us comfort and encourage each other. It helps if someone looks at you and says "all is well".
With a listening ear, an outstretched hand or an arm around the shoulder we give each other the most beautiful gift that a person can give to a person. Not only this Christmas, but also afterwards.
I wish you all - wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances may be - a blessed Christmas.