Queen Máxima: Greece lockdown vacation an "error of judgement";
The royal family’s trip to Greece days after a new coronavirus lockdown was announced last year was an "error of judgment", Queen Máxima said during an interview broadcast on her 50th birthday, which was viewed by 3.2 million people during its first airing. They did this days after the Cabinet announced a new partial lockdown due to rising coronavirus infections, and on the same day that two ministers pushed for people to remain within Dutch borders.
Máxima, King Willem-Alexander and their three daughters used the State-owned Boeing 737 to fly to Athens so they could visit the royal family’s villa in the Peloponnesus region last October. "Everyone should stay at home as much as possible," said Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus that very afternoon. The family traveled anyway to an area under a Code Yellow advisory, meaning the government had not issued a negative travel advisory for that specific region, but politicians, pundits, and citizens noted that it sent an unfair and strange message to the people.
"We made an error of judgment in thinking in terms of possibilities and not limitations. It was allowed, but it was not in solidarity,” said Queen Máxima to interviewer Matthias van Nieuwkerk during the interview. "I work very hard to achieve things. The fact that a vacation, which did not even mean a lot to us, caused such a stir, really hurts me," she added.
Following the scandal, King Willem-Alexander delivered a video message to the public where he expressed regret for his family's attempted vacation. "I am addressing you with sorrow in my heart. Our trip to Greece has provoked strong reactions from many Dutch people. It hurts to have betrayed your trust in us," he said at the time, with Máxima by his side.
For years the queen has been the most well-regarded member of the royal family, but she and her husband saw a dramatic decline in support after the trip. Her support plunged from 83% last year to 68% this year, the results of the annual King's Day Survey conducted by Ipsos and NOS in April this year showed. Despite their apology to the people over the trip, trust in Willem-Alexander is also still considerably lower than in previous years.
"Having people want to say something about us is inherent in our position and always will be. We just have to keep focusing on our work and looking to our future," the queen concluded.
In a new survey from Hart van Nederland released this week, just over a third of people identified Máxima as their favorite royal family member. Just over a third also said they do not particularly like any member of the family.