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Prince's Day 2019: 5 events in 1 day

On 17 September, the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA) took part in the festivities surrounding The Hague's largest annual event: 'Prinsjesdag' (Prince's Day). Prinsjesdag is traditionally celebrated on the third Tuesday of September. On this day, King Willem-Alexander reads out the 'Troonrede' (Throne Speech). It contains the government's most important plans for the upcoming year. FGGA had organised several events that took place in the morning and afternoon. This is an overview of the highlights of the day.

To start the day, students could have their picture taken with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The main morning event started at 11:15. This event was a lecture held by Danny Versmoren to inform international students about the ins and outs of Prinsjesdag. He also explained the history of Prinsjesdag.

Royal Procession

After the morning event, students were invited to walk over to the stands that had been erected at Korte Voorhout to watch the Royal Procession go by. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were driven from the Noordeinde Palace to the 'Ridderzaal'' (Knights' Hall) in a glass carriage. They were joined by other prominent members of the Royal House.

Established Protocols and Traditions

The afternoon session was intended for a Dutch speaking audience and started at 15:15. The event was opened by Dean Erwin Muller. He was followed by Jan Jaap van Weering, director and founder of Distinguished Etiquette & Protocol Consultancy, who discussed the protocols and traditions surrounding Prinsjesdag with the audience. He explained, for instance, the Prinsjesdag dress code for women (a suit with a skirt, stockings, court shoes with a heel of maximum 6.5cm) and for men (ties, polished shoes with socks that go up high enough to cover the calves). But also the appropriate way to eat a 'tompouce' (a Dutch pastry made of puff pastry and custard). Jan Jaap especially emphasised how all these protocols and etiquettes have to do with showing respect for each other.

Analysis Troonrede

Arco Timmermans, Professor by special appointment Public Affairs, and Gerard Breeman, Assistant Professor, both work for the Institute of Public Administration. They had made an analysis of the Troonrede in which they compared this year's Troonrede with the Coalition Agreement. The analysis showed that the 2019 Troonrede obtained the highest ever score on the 'Wolligheidindex' (Fuzzy Speech Index). This index shows the number of sentences without any reference to policy. The score was 75, indicating that only 25% of the Troonrede actually addressed policy issues.

Gainers and Losers

Timmermans and Breeman also analysed whether subjects were discussed less or more often compared to last year's speech. They referred to them as 'gainers' and 'losers'. Public authorities was a surprise 'gainer'. This subject was mentioned several times during this year's Troonrede but was not mentioned at all during last year's speech. One of the 'losers' was the subject of energy.

The Miljoenennota

At the end of the afternoon Henk Nijboer, an MP for the 'Partij van de Arbeid' (Dutch Labour Party), Wimar Bolhuis, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Tax Law and Economics, and Koen Caminada, Professor of Empirical Analysis of Tax and Social Policy and Vice Dean of FGGA engaged in a debate among themselves and with the audience about the 'Miljoenennota' (Budget Memorandum). The possible abolition of the Dutch student loan system was the most discussed topic of the afternoon. Students wondered, for instance, why politicians are now advocating to abolish the loan system  when they had previously supported it and how the decision to create the loan system had come about.

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