Friday, May 1, 2009

Queen's Day 2009

This year marks the 100 anniversary of Queen Juliana (the current Queen's mother), who was born April 30th - aka., Queen's Day. So yesterday, in commemoration of her mother, Queen Beatrix and the rest of the royal family decided to hold celebrations in the same manner as Juliana would have. In Juliana's day the people would come to her, as she'd stand at the palace and wave to passers by. (Today the royal family goes to the people instead, by visiting one or two small villages).

Since I had experienced the major party in Amsterdam last year, I figured I'd go to Apeldoorn and take part in the commemoration ceremonies. Plus, the festivities which included the Queen were to end around 1:30pm, providing ample opportunity to return to Amsterdam and party a while longer.
So, yesterday morning I dutifully put on my orange shirt and made the 25 minute trek to Amsterdam's central station, since there was no public transport going in to the city center. When I finally arrived in Apeldoorn an hour later, I was greeted by volunteers pointing people in the right direction. One even handed me a goofy orange hat, which I cheerfully placed on my head -because it is a celebration after all - then made my way over to the park which was the first stop on the royal family's list. The park was packed as onlookers cheered on their Queen who walked around from one performance to another.

I grew weary of dealing with the crowds after a half hour and started towards the palace. People were lined up and down the street all the way to the Loo Palace in order to watch the parade which showed the way of life from each decade of the past 100 years, along with catching a glimpse of the royal family as they made their way back to the Loo on the royal bus. Stopping half way to the palace, in order to give my foot a rest, I watched part of the parade until the bus passed me by.

I followed the bus along the rest of the way to the palace and as I nearly reached the Loo I passed the bus, crossed the street to the palace grounds and headed down the lane. A minute later people on the lane were cheering and bands playing as the royal family made their decent to the Loo. All of us oblivious to what had happened 20 seconds prior, only 500 meters away. The royal family had put back on their smiles and waved to the crowd, although quite shaken from what they had just witnessed. But even with the royal family trying to put on a calm demeanor, word spread quickly and the mood grew quite somber as we all learned of the horrific accident a few feet away.

(video does contain some graphic scenes)

I passed by the scene 10 minutes later, as I was returning to the train station. By that time all the injured were taken to the hospital and the monument was partitioned off. The rest of the festivities were canceled in Apeldoorn and a few other cities around Holland. However, the party was still strong in Amsterdam when I made it back, although most people knew of what happened and held a high concern for those who were injured. I would have joined the party, to feel a bit of the joyful spirit, but my foot wasn't co-operating so I made a leisurely walk through the crowds of people back home and spent the rest of the evening allowing my foot to rest.
I arrived home to see an email from my dad asking if I was ok and as I arrived at work today I was greeted by colleagues saying they were happy to see me alive and well. Their concern was very sweet. It's just unfortunate that one person can change such a happy day into a nightmare for so many people.


Rochelle said...

whoa, that's terrible! do they know anything about the driver yet? did most of the people who were hit survive? i'm glad you're ok!

claireb said...

Yeah, it was horrific. The driver died, he had gotten fired from his job and was being evicted him from his house, so the government thinks he was retaliating - trying to kill the queen. 6 of the dozen (or so) people who were hit didn't make it. Most hit are/were in critical condition and 2 had died immediately.