Constitutional Monarchy

The Dutch Royal House is the House of Orange-Nassau, which dates back to William of Orange (1533-1584). This is why the colour orange is so prominent in the Netherlands, especially on King's Day – the King’s official birthday celebration – when Amsterdam is bathed in this cheery colour.

Royal family

A distinction is made between the Dutch Royal Family and the Dutch Royal House. Not every member of the Royal Family (the Oranje-Nassaus) is necessarily part of the Royal House. Family members may be removed from the Royal House if they lose their Dutch nationality, if their membership is withdrawn by Royal Decree, or if they marry without Parliament’s permission.

Abdication of Queen Beatrix

2013 was a significant year for the Dutch monarchy. On 28 January 2013, Queen Beatrix surprised the entire nation by announcing that she would relinquish the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander. On 30 April, the former date of the Queen's Day celebrations, she signed the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. The investiture of His Majesty the King and Queen Máxima followed at the Nieuwe Kerk. The new royal couple have three daughters: Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane.

King's Day

This change also marked the last Queen’s Day of this generation. As of 2014, the country will instead celebrate King’s Day (Koningsdag) on 27 April, the birthday of the new king – although the first King’s Day will actually be held on Saturday, 26 April 2014, as the event is traditionally not celebrated on a Sunday.

Royal Palace in Amsterdam

The King has the use of three different state-owned palaces: Noordeinde, Huis ten Bosch and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, located on Dam Square. Designed by architect Jacob van Campen, the Royal Palace was originally built as a grand Golden Age city hall in 1648. However, in 1806 Louis Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, became King of Holland and transformed the building's function into a Royal Palace, which it still is today.

Visiting the Royal Palace

Today, Amsterdam’s Royal Palace is mainly used by the royal family for entertaining and official functions like state visits, the New Year celebrations and other official receptions. Whenever the royal family is not using the palace, it is open to visitors. In general, the Royal Palace is open daily in summer, and from Tuesday to Sunday the rest of the year. To avoid disappointment, check the current opening times on the palace website before you visit. The palace also offers guided tours in a variety of languages conducted by qualified art historians. All tours must be booked at least two weeks in advance.