On Thursday the Dutch royal court and the municipality of Groningen announced that King’s Day 2018 will take place in the city of Groningen, The Netherlands. On Friday 27 April 2018 King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, assumingly their daughters Princess Amalia, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane, as well as other family members will be heading to the north-east of the country to celebrate the King’s 51th birthday.
As you can imagine I am pretty excited, as Groningen is the city I live in, and actually it is only a 20-minute walk to the middle of the centre. So I hope I can be there too. I can only guess what the royals will see in the time they are in town. Probably the university, the Martini Church, the Grote Markt (main square) and the Vismarkt (fish market), or the maritime museum, the Prince’s Garden or the old Stadtholder Court (now a hotel). Not that most family members haven’t seen it all before already. Just not all parts of the city might be of interest for the family or very accessible for the public or nice to film for the television. Let’s hope that the forum on the Grote Markt looks much better than at the moment, as it hasn’t been finished yet.
Only 14 years earlier, on Friday 30 April 2004, the Dutch royals also visited Groningen on this national day, that at the time was called Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag). It would have been the 95th birthday of Queen Juliana, who had died in March 2004. I had been to Queen’s Day before, but I think 2004 was actually my first time as a journalist. It was an amazing experience of course. Me with a tiny non-digital camera standing between the press photographers, who by that time almost all had digital cameras. The visit started in the village of Warffum, after which the family took the royal train to Groningen. We media had to take care that we left after them and arrived at Groningen railway station preferably before the royals. Can’t remember if we took the same train – the non-royal part of it – or another one.
In Groningen they drove in carriages from the railway station to the city centre. Estimated 100.000 people celebrated in the city. Most of the visit concentrated on the Vismarkt, finishing with the grand finale on the Grote Markt. All activities were on the Vismarkt, and I remember it was quite difficult for the media to get to the Grote Markt, as of course the whole area between these two markets was full of people, and we were not to take the same route as the royals. On the Grote Markt choirs and school children sang a song for the royals when they appeared on the balcony of the town hall. At the end there was a nice speech by Queen Beatrix.
It took me quite a while yesterday to find my pictures from that day, but in the end I found four boxes full of pictures. All I had to do was scan some for you.