A new King in the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands (also called the Netherlands)  has a new monarch, King Willem-Alexander. His mother, who was the queen of the Netherlands, stepped down on April 30 to pass on the monarchy to him.  Queen Beatrix  is now called Princess Beatrix. She became queen when her mother stepped down 33 years ago. Princess Beatrix was 42 years old then.

King Willem-Alexander is the first male monarch of the Netherlands in over a hundred years. The last Dutch king died in 1890 – it’s just been queens ever since! The new king is 46 years old and has three daughters. His eldest daughter, Catharina-Amalia, who is 9 years old, is now next in line to the throne. Many people wore orange clothing for the celebrations to welcome the new king because orange is the color of the Dutch Royal family.

April 30 was Queen’s Day, an annual national holiday in the Netherlands. One Dutch tradition on Queen’s Day is to have a large flea market and sell unwanted things. From next year onwards, King’s Day will instead be celebrated.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four parts within it – Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and the Netherlands. The head of the government of the country is not the monarch, but the prime minister. The current prime minister is Mark Rutte.

The Netherlands often causes confusion with its various names! It is referred to as Holland many times, which is really just a large part of the Netherlands. The people of the Netherlands are called by a name that doesn’t resemble the name of the country at all – the Dutch! The official language of the country is also called Dutch. Almost one-fifth of the Netherlands is below sea-level. In other words, it would be below water if one didn’t keep the sea out! This is done by building lots of dykes (also known as levees) – think of them as walls of mud that keep the water out. Some of you may have heard the story of the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in a hole in a dyke to prevent his town from flooding. Also, the Netherlands is known as the country of windmills. What is not as well-known is that the main use of the windmills is to pump water out of the country back into the sea.  The country is also famous for its tulips.

If you feel short in the Netherlands, there is a reason. On average, the Dutch are the tallest people in the world. The average height of a Dutch man is about 6 feet (182 cm) and a woman is about  5 feet 7 inches (170 cm).

Did you know?

The Dutch love to bike. In Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, there are about as many bikes as the number of people living in the city.

Image Credits: Government.nl for the image of King Willem-Alexander; Pieter1 for the boy statue’s image