The Dutch Royal family was extensively in the news last week. Our Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son who will now be our new King! King Willem-Alexander will be crowned on 30 April 2013 (watch that date!).
There are a couple of royal places to visit in the Netherlands. But as many travelers only visit the big cities like Amsterdam (with the Royal Palace) and The Hague (Palace Noordeinde), a little royal gem in the eastern part of the Netherlands is often overlooked: Paleis (Palace) Het Loo.
Dutch royalty: Palace Het Loo
Close to the city of Apeldoorn, the 300 year old Palace Het Loo is waiting for your visit. Since 1984 and after a thorough renovation, this former royal residence is open to the public.
It is a great opportunity to walk gracefully through the beautifully furnished quarters of the Royal Family. They have different exhibitions throughout the year. When we visited we where were thrown back in time and watched how Christmas was celebrated at the dinner table of ‘the Royals’!
From the outside it might not look like a fairytale castle, but the interiors are truly wonderful. The baroque gardens are great for a nice stroll.
What I found interesting were the stables where lots of carriages were on display, together with some historical cars that the Queens of the Netherlands used in the past years and centuries. The last Queen who actually lived at Palace Het Loo was Queen Wilhelmina. She died in 1962 at…yes, Palace Het Loo. The white carriage is actually the one that was used for her funeral. Check out the video, impressive…
Many Dutch people think the Royal Family is like glue keeping us all together; on Queens Day (that will turn into Kings Day as from next year) we all feel connected and we celebrate the Queens birthday like she is the most important person in the world. However, others have long parroted that the Royal Family are only ceremonial figureheads (so without any real or political power). You want to know my opinion? Ceremonial or not, having a King or a Queen is something special. It brings added value when it exists next to the regular political forces.
Mind you, when you travel in the Netherlands and try to understand the different groups within our society, you will realise that our country is actually a beautiful patchwork of cultures. Our unity is created through diversity (but more about that in a later post on this blog).
The Palace is open daily, except on Mondays (and not in winter time). More information about the Palace can be found on the English website.
Cannot wait and want to read more about things to do in the Netherlands? Click here for my 5 favorite places!