The Netherlands

Prinsjesdag in The Netherlands: All you need to know

With this post I would like to introduce you to a Dutch tradition that takes place each third Tuesday in September: Prinsjesdag. Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands is an important day in Dutch politics because His Majesty the King reads the Speech from the Throne that outlines the government policy for the year ahead. The day’s events are surrounded by pomp and ceremony! In this blog post, I will take you on a journey to discover the significance of Prinsjesdag, its unique traditions, and the magic it brings to the Dutch city: The Hague.

When and where is Prinsjesdag?

Prinsjesdag – the third Tuesday in September – is the State Opening of Parliament. Our King travels at 13:00 hours in a coach from The Hague palace Noordeinde via the Lange Voorhout and the Korte Vijverberg to the Royal Theater in The Hague. For years, the speech was held in the Ridderzaal (knights’ hall) in the Binnenhof (inner court), but this year it is at the Royal Theater! Around 13:50 the royal procession returns to Noordeinde Palace where the royal family appears on the balcony.

Prinsjesdag 2023 Program

This is the program for Prinsjesdag 2023:

Morning: The National Budget and the Budget Memorandum go into the Minister of Finance’s briefcase. The Royal Theater is prepared for all guests.

12:45 p.m.: All invited guests are present at the Royal Theatre.

1 p.m.: Departure of Royal procession (Noordeinde Palace) and opening of the United Assembly of the States General (Royal Theater).

1:20 p.m.: The Royal procession arrives at the Royal Theater. From departure to arrival, a gun salute is fired every minute on Malieveld. The King delivers the Speech from the Throne.

1:50 p.m.: The Royal procession returns to Noordeinde Palace. Following is the balcony scene.

3:30 p.m.: The Minister presents the briefcase with the Budget and the National Budget to the Lower House.

Source: Rijksoverheid

Transportation in and around The Hague

On Prinsjesdag in The Netherlands many streets in the city center of The Hague are closed. The municipality of The Hague advises you to come to the city by bicycle or public transport. Visit for more information.

Many buses and streetcars will run a modified route during Prinsjesdag route. There are detours for streetcar lines 1, 15, 16 and 17, and bus 22, 24 and 28. Check Htm for more information.

Photo by Michael Fousert: Binnenhof, Den Haag, The Netherlands

The Royal Procession

One of the most captivating aspects of Prinsjesdag is the royal procession. Early in the morning, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, elegantly dressed, leave Noordeinde Palace in The Hague in a horse-drawn carriage. The procession makes its way through the city streets, allowing thousands of spectators to catch a glimpse of the royals. People from all walks of life gather along the procession route, hoping to catch a glimpse of the royals. The excitement in the air is palpable as the king waves to the crowds.

The royal procession involves a great deal of military might. The line-up includes standard bearers, the cavalry and other honorary escorts. Outside the palace stand an escort of honor and a military band.

Tip: be there early, because the real supporters of the House of Orange want to be first in line and get there at dawn.

The Golden Coach at Prinsjesdag

For years, several Dutch king and queens have ridden in a golden carriage on Prinsjesdag. However, for a few years now, there has been much discussion about the side of the golden coach. It shows a white woman on a throne. Around it are people of darker skin color bowing to her and placing gifts at her feet. The image has to do with slavery and many people think this is unacceptable, which I can understand. Therefore, at this time, our king has decided to stop riding around in a carriage with such an image. He now uses a glass carriage.

For the Dutch readers, below you will find a short video explaining the use of the golden carriage:

The Throne Speech

As King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima arrives at the Royal Theater, a band strikes up the Wilhelmus (national anthem). The King and other members of the Royal House salute the color of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (the most ancient regiment in the Dutch armed forces) and mount the Theater’s steps.

Here it’s finally happening, the king will speak! Surely what our King has to say has to be of some interest, right? Well, he actually doesn’t write the speech itself. It’s just a message dictated by the government and it’s actually pretty boring. The speech outlines the Dutch government’s plans for the upcoming year. This speech reflects the nation’s priorities, including policies related to the economy, healthcare, and social issues. Members of Parliament, government officials, and foreign dignitaries gather to listen attentively. Every year, the plans are instantly leaked to the media. It’s not even a secret or outrage anymore!

When the Speech is finished, the speaker of the Senate proclaims “Leve de koning!” (“Long live the King!”) which is answered by everyone present with “HOERA! HOERA! HOERA!”. This brings an end to the joint session of the two houses.

The briefcase at Prinsjesdag

Since 1947, the budget submitted is carried in a special briefcase in imitation of the British Budget Day tradition. The current briefcase was made in 1964 and has printed on it in Dutch: “Third Tuesday of September.

DEN HAAG – Koning Willem-Alexander en koningin Maxima zwaaien naar omstanders vanaf het balkon bij Paleis Noordeinde op Prinsjesdag. ANP ROYAL IMAGES ROBIN UTRECHT, 18 September 2018: From left to right Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Queen Máxima and King Willem-Alexander.

There will be hats at Prinsjesdag

On Prinsjesdag, male wear their most formal dress, while female try to outdo each other with extravagant hats. Many women choose to wear colorful hats. This tradition started in 1977, when a member of parliament decided to stand out in the grey mass of the conservative dress code. By now, many politicians are no longer afraid to stand out during Budget Day. They regularly use their hats to make a political statement. In 2009, for example, Marianne Thieme wore a black chef’s hat with the text “meat free Mondays”. In 2011, the words ‘save our seas’ adorned the admiral’s cap she wore. And her successor Esther Ouwehand appeared on Prinsjesdag in 2021 wearing a severed tree trunk as a hat.

Brace yourself, there will be gossiping and oooh’s and aaah’s about it.



In summary, Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands, celebrated every third Tuesday in September, is a significant political event marked by royal pomp and ceremony. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima lead a grand procession, and the King delivers the Throne Speech outlining the government’s plans for the year. The event is also known for extravagant hats worn by women, adding flair to the occasion.

While traditionally featuring the iconic Golden Coach, recent discussions about its imagery have led to its temporary replacement by a glass carriage. Despite its political nature, Prinsjesdag is a fun celebration of Dutch identity and democracy, drawing enthusiastic participation from the public.

Are you going to attend Prinsjesdag in The Netherlands?

Author: Daphne

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