Thirty three years ago today, in 1980, I was at the Blauwbrug in Amsterdam, chucking bricks at the riot police. I was a squatter and our slogan was ‘Geen Woning, Geen Kroning!’ (No Home, No Coronation) as there was a great shortage of affordable housing, especially for students. Beatrix’s coronation was a great opportunity to make our point and we did. It was not a protest against her as a person, the monarchy is largely irrelevant in Holland, but against the political and capitalist systems that allowed and promoted the building of huge office complexes that remained empty (and some of them still are today!) as there was more profit in doing that instead of building the houses that were really needed.
Things have changed a bit since then, I daresay I have changed, although not in too many important ways. I now watched the balcony scene live on the BBC with the new King Willem-Alexander, formerly known as ‘Prins Pils’, (Prince Beer) and his photogenic family waving to the adoring crowd below. I felt detached from it all and not just because I live in the UK now. The important thing about today is the party. I am looking forward to coming to Amsterdam on Kingsday in the future. As it will be a few days earlier than Queensday used to be, we will be able to do that and go to Scotland for the customary first week of May!