Public Holidays in the Netherlands
Prince's Day (prinsjesdag) is not a public holiday but an important day in Dutch politics, opening the parliamentary session year. Prinsjesdag is also the "budget day" of the Netherlands and takes place every year on the third Tuesday in September.
King Willem-Alexander, Dutch Head of State, reads the Speech from the Throne in the Knights' Hall (Ridderzaal) at the Binnenhof in The Hague on this day, opening the new working year of the First (Eerste Kamer) and Second Chambers (Tweede Kamer). The throne in neo-Gothic style was designed by the architect P.J.H. Cuypers. During the Speech from the Throne, Queen Máxima sits next to the King on a side throne. The second Speech from the Throne is connected with the opening of the meeting of the States General (Staten-Generaal), which has been held on the third Tuesday in September since 1888. Staten-Generaal is the name of the Parliament of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and that of the country of the Netherlands. It consists of two chambers (Eerste Kamer & Tweede Kamer), both seated in the Binnenhof in The Hague.
Before the Speech from the Throne, a royal parade passes through The Hague. The parade departs from Noordeinde Palace at around 1 pm and arrives at the Ridderzaal about 25 minutes later, where the reading of the Speech from the Throne begins. At about 2 pm, the parade returns to Noordeinde Palace. As the King departs, he salutes the banner of the armed forces arrayed in the palace, and the Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem, is played. In The Hague, thousands of people stand in the street to wave to the King as he passes by in a carriage. From the time of the King's departure from Noordeinde Palace until his return, the mounted artillery corps fired shots every minute from the Malieveld.
After the speech from the throne, the Minister of Finance carries a suitcase into the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). This suitcase has been a tradition since 1947 and arouses media curiosity days in advance. It contains the national budget and the memorandum of millions (Miljoenennota).
The Minister of Finance presents the Miljoenennota and the national budget for the following year to the Tweede Kamer (Rijksbegroting). The Miljoenennota itself is a memorandum on the "Rijks Financiën" and thus a general statement by the Dutch government on the expected revenues and expenditures of the Dutch national budget for the following year. The government therefore announces its policy's objectives - including financial allocations - for the coming year.
Dutch people follow the news on this day because it clearly states the distribution of costs for each citizen. Shops and restaurants are open as on any other Tuesday. In The Hague, however, this is different. Please check the internet at a good time for closed streets and opening hours in The Hague! If you also want to wave to the King, arrive as early as possible. Tip: The royal couple's return to Noordeinde Palace is followed by a balcony ceremony at around 2 p.m., during which the members of the royal family present on the palace balcony are cheered by the people.
Early history Prinsjesdag
Since 1814, the working year of the Senate and the House of Representatives has been officially opened on Prinsjesdag. Initially, Prinsjesdag did not fall on the 3rd Tuesday in September, but on the 1st Monday in November. Later it fell on the 3rd Monday in October. But that was always too late in the year. There was not enough time to prepare the budgets for 1 January. Therefore, in 1848, the budget day was brought forward to the 3rd Monday in September.
For many parliamentarians, the travelling time to The Hague was long. They had to leave home as early as Sunday to be in the plenary hall in time for Prinsjesdag. Members of Christian parties in particular, objected to this. Therefore, in 1887, Prinsjesdag was moved to the 3rd Tuesday in September.
At her coronation on 6 September 1898, Queen Wilhelmina received a golden carriage (Gouden koets) as a gift from the people of Amsterdam. In 1903, Queen Wilhelmina used the Golden Carriage to travel to the Binnenhof for the first time. The Golden Carriage has thus become a symbol of Prinsjesdag. The side panels of the carriage show, among other things, the homage of the Netherlands and the Dutch colonies of the time to the Nederlandse Maagd, a symbolic figure of the Netherlands. As a result, the carriage has repeatedly attracted negative attention in recent years. Due to restoration work started after Prinjesdag 2016, a glass carriage (Glazen Koets) will replace the Gouden Koets for a few years. In September 2020, it was announced that the golden carriage would be fully restored in 2021 and exhibited in the Amsterdam Museum from June to November 2021. It is unclear whether it will still be officially used after 2021.
Between 1815 and 1904, the King or Queen delivered the Speech from the Throne in the House of Representatives. In 1904, the Knight's Hall at the Binnenhof in The Hague was chosen. In 2020, the speech will be held in the Grote Kerk.
What does the Miljoenennota say?
The Million Memorandum contains the Cabinet's most important plans and decisions for the coming year and indicates how much these plans will cost. The Million Memorandum also describes the financial and economic situation of the Netherlands and the expected developments. The Million Memorandum is an explanation of the state budget.
The Million Memorandum answers questions such as
- What are the Cabinet's main plans for the coming year?
- What will these plans cost?
- What impact will the plans have on citizens and businesses?
- What is the state of the public finances?
- Is there a deficit, and if so, how big is the deficit?
- Are we sticking to European agreements and targets?
- How is the Dutch economy doing?
The contents of the Miljoenennota are officially kept secret until Prinsjesdag. In recent years, however, details have repeatedly been leaked in advance and published in the media.
What is the Rijksbegroting?
The state budget (Rijksbegroting) consists of the budgets of all ministries combined. The state budget indicates how much money the individual ministries receive and what they expect to spend in the coming year.
The state budget provides answers to questions:
- What do we want to achieve?
- What will we do?
- What will it cost?
The Minister of Finance presents the national budget to the Tweede Kamer annually on Prinsjesdag, together with the Million Memorandum and the Tax Plan. The ministries' budgets are all bills. The Eerste and Tweede Kamer have to evaluate and approve the proposals. Once both chambers have approved the bills, the national budget is fixed, and the government can implement the plans.
Who writes the Speech from the Throne?
Anyone who thinks that the King writes the speech himself is wrong. Until the constitution was revised in 1848, the content of the Speech from the Throne was officially a matter for the king. After 1848, the ministers decided what the King should say. But it was only after the First World War that the Speech from the Throne acquired its present character, a sketch of the situation and an outline of the plans for the following parliamentary year.
The Prime Minister writes an introductory text of the Speech from the Throne. He does this based on the contributions of the other ministers. The Prime Minister submits the preliminary text of the Speech from the Throne to the Council of Ministers at the end of August. In the Netherlands, all ministers are members of the Council of Ministers; each minister has a vote. The Prime Minister also discusses the text with the King. At the last Council of Ministers before Prinsjesdag, the Speech from the Throne is finally adopted. In this way, the Speech from the Throne can be included in the Government Gazette (Staatscourant) in time for the text to be officially available on Prinsjesdag.
Prince's Day in the Netherlands
|Prince's Day 2023
|Tuesday, 19th September 2023
|Prince's Day 2024
|Tuesday, 17th September 2024
|Prince's Day 2025
|Tuesday, 16th September 2025
|Prince's Day 2026
|Tuesday, 15th September 2026
|Prince's Day 2027
|Tuesday, 21st September 2027
|Prince's Day 2028
|Tuesday, 19th September 2028
|Prince's Day 2029
|Tuesday, 18th September 2029
|Prince's Day 2030
|Tuesday, 17th September 2030
|Prince's Day 2031
|Tuesday, 16th September 2031