The opening of Parliament

In Sweden and the Netherlands they must have had the same idea: the third Tuesday in September would be the best day to open the parliamentary year. This year that was on Tuesday 18 September. However they are both celebrated totally different.

In The Netherlands Queen Beatrix, her eldest son the Prince of Orange and her daughter-in-law Princess Máxima travelled in the Golden Carriage from the Noordeinde Palace to the “Ridderzaal” (Knight’s Hall) in The Hague. The Queen’s younger son Prince Constantijn, his wife Princess Laurentien, as well as the Queen’s sister Princess Margriet and her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven travelled in a Gala Glass Berline carriage. The ladies wore long evening dresses and hats or headpieces. The Prince of Orange wore his uniform and the other men wore their morning dress. Of course they also wore several orders. The show as usual started at 1pm when the carriages left the palace. They were escorted by various army regiments and the police corps, as well as the Royal Military Chapel. After a short ride through the centre of The Hague they arrived at the “Binnenhof”, the government center, where the “Ridderzaal” is located. Seated on her throne the Queen held a speech in which she revealed the most important plans of the government for the next year. As in the previous years, because of the financial crisis in the world, the speech wasn’t really positive. After a short break the royal family left the “Ridderzaal” again and headed back to the palace. The event ended with a balcony scene. Every year lots of people line the streets to see the usually most glamourous royal event of the year.

In Sweden the opening of Parliament is kept quite solemn. The royal family always wears black or grey, eventually combined with white. The day started with an ecumenical service at the “Storkyrkan” in Stockholm, attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine. Afterwards the family headed in horse-drawn carriages with military escort to the “Riksdag” (Parliament) for the opening ceremony. Because of the rainy weather the carriages were partly covered. Although the King holds the opening speech, it is the Prime Minister who reads the plans of the government. In the evening a concert was being held at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

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