AMSTERDAM – The Dutch capital is known for boozy stag nights and pot-smoking tourists. But for what could be the nation’s party of the decade — the abdication of Queen Beatrix and accession to the throne of her son Willem-Alexander — Amsterdam wants to keep things low key.
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said Wednesday he “wants a party, but at the same time sober” for the April 30 inauguration.
He’s not suggesting alcohol-free festivities, but he wants to keep the cost in check as the nation tightens its belt to recover from an economic buffeting caused by the European debt crisis.
Van der Laan is even seeking sponsors to help pick up the estimated €7 million ($9 million) tab for the royal bash.
And in an attempt to prevent the capital clogging up with visitors keen to get a glimpse of their outgoing queen and new king, Van der Laan had some advice about the best vantage point.
“If you want to get a really good view, maybe the best place is watching on television,” he said.
The day in Amsterdam will start with Beatrix signing abdication papers in the royal palace on central Dam Square. The inauguration of Willem-Alexander will then take place next door in the 15th century New Church.
In the early evening, the new King Willem-Alexander and his Argentine-born wife Maxima will take a boat trip around the city’s Ij waterway.
The Ij was chosen over a trip around the city’s famed 400-year old ring of canals because it is easier to control crowds along the river banks than in the maze of narrow side streets that link the canals.
And there will be no giant firework show to crown the day’s festivities — Van der Laan said it wouldn’t be dark enough when the royals finish their boat trip.
For those in the city who don’t want to head to the water’s edge, the huge public square behind the Rijksmuseum will be turned into an “Orange Square” where revelers can watch events unfold on giant screens.