Did you know that every year on the third Tuesday of September is Prinsjesdag (Budget Day) in the Netherlands?
This is an important ceremonial day for the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives. Prinsjesdag is an eleborate ceremony full of historical rituals and symbolism. With many traditions like the royal procession, the Speech from the Throne and extravagant hats worn by ladies.
Prinsjesdag in The Hague timetable
All invitees including the members of the Senate, the House of Representatives, ministers and the mayor of The Hague are present at the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall).
The royal procession leaves from the King’s office, Noordeinde Palace in the heart of The Hague. Since the customary Golden Carriage is undergoing a four-year maintenance programme, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are driven in the Glass Carriage.
The King and Queen are accompanied by Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, court dignitaries and military honorary escort.
The King is accompanied by his wife Queen Máxima, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien, members of the court and military honorary escort. Members of the armed forces and thousands of spectators line the procession route from Noordeinde Palace to the Binnenhof.
From the start of the procession until arriving at the Ridderzaal, every minute a salute is fired from Malieveld to let the people know the head of state is on his way to the assembly.
When the royal procession arrives at the Binnenhof, a military chapel plays the national anthem ‘Wilhelmus’. The King and Queen salute a symbolic historical banner before entering the Ridderzaal.
King Willem-Alexander reads the Speech from the Throne to mark the opening of the new parliamentary year. The Speech is not written by the King but prepared the ministers and secretaries of state. The King delivers the Speech in a neutral and formal tone of voice, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the proposals outlining the government’s agenda for the next year.
Following the Speech, the speaker of the Senate calls “Leve de Koning!” (Long live the King!), which is answered by the guests with “Hoera! Hoera! Hoera!” (Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!).
The royal procession returns to Noordeinde Palace where the royals traditionally salute the well-wishers from the balcony (‘balkonscene’) at 14.00.
Army orchestras perform at Lange Voorhout.
After the Speech the Minister of Finance presents the briefcase containing the Budget Memorandum (‘Miljoenennota’) and next year’s national budget (‘Rijksbegroting’) to the House of Representatives.
Route of the Glass Carriage
The royal procession starts at Noordeinde Palace and goes along Heulstraat, Kneuterdijk, Lange Voorhout, Tournooiveld, Korte Vijverberg on its way to the Binnenhof.
On his first day as a monarch, in 1815, King Willem I made a record of the ceremony of the royal procession in a Royal Decree: “His Majesty in an enclosed eight horse-drawn carriage with grooms walking besides the horses and three lackeys on either side of the carriage.”
Politicians, dignitaries and other guests wear their most formal dress, while the ladies try to outdo each other with extravagant hats. The hats and (sometimes statement-making) outfits worn by attendees and members of the royal house are much discussed.
You can visit The Hague and try to get a glimpse of the royal procession. People from all over the Netherlands come to The Hague and some of them wear traditional costumes.
There is no charge for watching the royal procession along the route but the best views are from one of the grandstands along Lange Voorhout. Tickets for the grandstand can be booked at the Tourist Information Office (VVV) in The Hague.
Please note that on Prinsjesdag a number of streets in the city center of The Hague will be closed to traffic.
The royal procession and the Speech from the Throne are broadcasted live on television on NOS channel 1 from 12.30 to 15.25.
Prinsjesdag is not a public holiday in the Netherlands but schools in The Hague are closed so kids can go and watch the King and Queen.
In 2017 a delegation of 37 millers from the municipality of Molenwaard lines the procession route. Kinderdijk is part of the municipality of Molenwaard.
Friesian horses and Gelderlanders alternate each year. In 2017 the royal carriage is drawn by eight Gelderlander horses.
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