Eleonore Breukel is the author of over 100 articles for various business magazines, newspapers and the virtual media.

She co-authored a book on how to do business in 19 countries across the world.

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Influence on Dutch economy of the new King and Queen of Netherlands

Influence on Dutch economy of new KIng and Queen of Netherlands

By Eleonore Breukel and Marcelo Baudino

What is the power of the new Dutch King Willem Alexander and his Queen? What role do they play in the local and international economy? And what is the Dutch taxpayer willing to pay for their royal services? 

It is indeed curious that the Netherlands is ruled by a monarch and a parliament. The Netherlands ranks high as a country on equal rights and any emphasis on social class differences or hierarchy are not appreciated and usually regarded as silly.  So why then will the throne be taken up by a new king and queen when Queen Beatrix abdicates on April 30th, 2013?  Maintaining the tradition appears to reinforce the gap between the social classes rather than minimize it.

Stability and Continuity

The Monarchy and the House of Orange-Nassau have brought economic and political stability to the Netherlands over the past two centuries. The Dutch have always been global traders. Most Dutch belief that the Monarchy provides credibility for their national identity and that a trustworthy reputation opens doors for international business. The Netherlands ranks 5th out of 144 countries on the 2012 Global Competitiveness scale of the World Economic Forum. (Argentina ranks 94th).  Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Belgium - all North European monarchies - are among the top 17 countries.

 Not all Dutch share this belief.  Dutch republicans have an ongoing, open debate about the advantages of having a Republic. They remain a small but loud minority well represented in government. However, while Dutch political parties come and go and democratically elected governments rise and fall, the Monarch, the House of Orange-Nassau, remained for 200 years.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands

How does this kingdom function?  However strange it may sound, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a Constitutional parliamentary monarchy. This means that the power lies with the government and the parliament.  The government consists of the ministers plus the monarch or king as head of state.  The prime minister is the head of government. The king is inviolable meaning ‘the king can do no wrong’ and therefore cannot be sued. The ministers are responsible for the actions of the king and the Royal House.

 This means that any official notice, speech or public appearance of the members of the Royal House (consisting of immediate family members) must first be submitted and approved by the ministers. A weekend shopping in Buenos Aires, taking the kids to their public school or buying a house in Italy are all subject to the approval of the ministers.

 Maximum Maxima

The last king of the Netherlands died in 1890. The immediate successors have all been women:  the Queens Emma, Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Their husbands, being men, were not given the title ‘king’ but instead were deemed princes. Maxima's husband, Willem Alexander, will be the first king since 1890. The spouse of the king is given the title ‘Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands’. However if her husband dies or abdicates she has no right to succeed and rule. Her eldest daughter, Amalia, will be the heir to the throne.

Maxima was accepted into the Dutch nobility in 2002 when she married Prince Willem Alexander. The fact that she will be the first Dutch queen born as a commoner has never been a point of public interest among the Dutch.

 The role of King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima

The constitutional duties of the king are limited to signing laws, taking the oath of ministers, appointing mayors and opening each new parliamentary year. Willem Alexander and Maxima have gathered a deep understanding of politics and state affairs over the years. Each week the king is updated on running affairs by the prime minister.

The remaining tasks are ceremonial. These include visiting and receiving Heads of State and other government officials, opening museums and buildings, and most importantly, meeting local people and listening to their concerns.

The impact of their official visits abroad as Prince and Princess was amazing. Large trade delegations travel with them and Dutch business people return home with new large contracts.  As King and Queen their network of influential people expands daily and will be put to work in favor of the Dutch economy.

 Over the past decade Maxima has proved to be a true cosmopolitan with a global mindset. She has worked on cultural diversity and integration in the Netherlands, micro-finance for women in the third world, and she was a special advocate of the UN for inclusive finance for development. As queen, she will have to cease work on many of these activities since the role leaves her little liberty to take on projects of her own interest, which will inevitably limit her spontaneity. Every word she says or step she takes will be scrutinized in the media and judged by the people.

Stipend and transparency

The members of the Royal House are not employed and therefore do not receive a salary, but they do receive a stipend. The stipend of Queen Beatrix in 2011 was 829,000 Euros.  Her son Alexander, as Crown Prince, and his wife received a stipend of 247,000 Euros each. The total costs of the royal households, representation, travel, and security, totals 40 million Euros a year.  There is transparency in reporting expenses, which are controlled by the Government.

The Dutch tax payer

The 40 million Euros are paid by the Dutch taxpayer.  This is not done to maintain a real life fairy tale for the king and the queen with rides in golden carriages, diamond crowns, and palaces.  The Dutch are too practical for that.  In the Dutch drive for global trade, the expense is seen as peanuts in comparison to the economic value that the Royal House and the Royal Family of Orange–Nassau provide in the international marketplace.

Amsterdam-Buenos Aires, March 7, 2013

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 About the Authors:

·       Eleonore Breukel is  Director of Intercultural Communication bv in Amsterdam, The Netherlands - 

·       Marcelo Baudino is  Director of Iceberg Cultural Intelligence in Buenos Aires – Argentina  -