AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix underlined her country’s commitment to the euro during her annual address to Parliament about the national budget on Tuesday, and made it clear the country will continue to pursue “austerity” policies in response to Europe’s debt crisis.
The popular queen was speaking at the 13th-century Hall of Knights in the Hague after riding from her palace in her horse-drawn “Golden Carriage” past thousands of supporters and fans dressed in orange for “Princes’ Day” — the most important ceremony of the year for the royal house.
Reading a speech written by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s outgoing conservative government and televised nationally, Beatrix said that European cooperation “which has brought our country so much, is under pressure because of the debt crisis.”
She said a “strong and stable currency” is important for all euro member states, but “for the Netherlands, which earns a large portion of its national income in Europe, it’s essential.”
Princes’ Day, which is held on the third Tuesday in September, came at an inconvenient moment this year. National elections were held on Sept. 13, but a new Parliament has yet to be sworn in. Beatrix was addressing a host of lame-duck members of parliament, and discussing a budget that may soon be significantly altered.
The 2013 budget, to be published later Tuesday, is based on a deal struck with a variety of parties after Rutte’s government collapsed in April.
Beatrix mentioned raising the retirement age and reducing mortgage deductions as some of the measures included in the budget, which lawmakers intended to reduce the government’s defict below the 3 percent limit prescribed by European rules.
In the elections last week, Rutte’s VVD Party won the most seats, followed by the center-left Labor party.
After a new Parliament is sworn in Thursday, Rutte is expected to begin negotiations to form a new centrist government with Labor that is likely to undo many of the agreements made in April. Labor leader Diederik Samsom was caught on camera nodding off during Beatrix’s speech and later offered his apologies, blaming a sleep deficit after the recent election campaign.
Both leading parties are pro-Europe and are expected to cooperate and stick to the European budget rules.
Populist maverick Geert Wilders, who lost badly in the elections on an anti-euro platform, said the speech was “surreal.”
“The measures mentioned may be going into the trashcan tomorrow,” he said.
Beatrix wore a somber black-and-white dress, which some royalty watchers saw as a reference to her son, Prince Johan Friso, who has been in a coma since being struck by an avalanche in February.
Crown Prince Willem Alexander and other members of the royal family, as well as the country’s elite attending the address, wore their usual array of extravagant hats and dresses.
Official Wire and AP
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