AMSTERDAM—The annual event known as Prince’s Day in the Netherlands brings an uncommon dose of pomp to the decidedly informal Dutch landscape. Tens of thousands of people gathered on Tuesday to watch King Willem-Alexander and his superstar wife Queen Maxima travel in their golden carriage to the Hall of Knights for the opening of Parliament.
The crowds come for the pageantry, but the day contains a large dose of serious substance. The main event is the king’s speech, which offers important clues to emerging priorities for the Netherlands, and usually for much of Europe. This year marked the 200th occasion for the constitutionally mandated event and only the second address from the current king, crowned just 16 months ago.
The king’s speech on Tuesday revealed a sharp shift in the hierarchy of concerns, a drastic move away from the economic worries that have driven policy in Europe for the past eight years toward a new emphasis on security and foreign policy.