On the 23rd October, the King of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander, addressed members of both Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords in attendance of several members of the NBCC. The King, accompanied by Queen Máxima, was welcomed by John Bercow MP who introduced the King’s speech and affirmed the unique relationship between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The King then spoke, reaffirming the strong bond between North Sea Neighbours, stating that despite the UK’s exit from the EU, the UK will remain an ally and partner, as well as a ‘source of inspiration.’ His Majesty touched upon the long shared history between the two Kingdoms, highlighting the Glorious Revolution of 1688, as well as of course the role played by both countries in fighting for freedom in WW1 and WW2.
The speech laid out the common values and rights of our two Kingdoms - those of free elections, freedom of speech and protection from arbitrary power – and accentuated the role of these in maintaining the strong foundations of constitutional monarchy in both countries.
The King then turned to the topic of Brexit and expressed his sadness at the UK’s departure, whilst also emphasising his sincere respect for the country’s choice. Again, the two countries’ ‘unwavering truth’ was called to attention– that our ties will never be broken. His Majesty concluded the speech with a quote from one of the most influential thinkers of the Enlightenment, John Locke, an Englishman who spent five years living in the Netherlands:
“I have found here another fatherland, and I had almost said: other kinsmen. I call myself happy that my sojourn of these years among you has been put to such good and profitable use.”
The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, then humorously thanked the King pointing to the monarch’s place as 889th in line to the British throne and the monarch’s longstanding friendship with Her Majesty the Queen.
The conclusion that can be drawn from these speeches is that despite the current climate of uncertainty, one thing can be deemed certain: the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands is as strong as ever. Brexit does not mean an ending to our strong personal, political and economic ties; it merely means that our bond will continue on another footing, but by no means a weaker footing.
A final word from the Lord Speaker, ‘Our past should speak to our future…. Our friendship and our strong alliance will continue… These ties will not be broken.’
To watch the full speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqFdWl0CODo
To read a transcript of the King’s speech: https://www.royal-house.nl/documents/speeches/2018/10/23/speech-by-his-majesty-the-king-on-the-occasion-of-his-visit-to-the-house-of-commons-and-the-house-of-lords-palace-of-westminster
To read a transcript of the Lord Speaker’s closing remarks:https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2018/october/lord-speaker-thanks-king-of-netherlands-for-address/