Proficiat aan Koning Willem-Alexander der Nederlanden, en Koningin Máxima! (Or, for my English readers, “Congratulations to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Máxima!”) By the time you read this article, the former Prince of Orange-Nassau will have been inaugurated as the first King of the Netherlands since his great-great grandfather, William III, abdicated the throne in favor of the Princess Wilhelmina.
I am most definitely an American; a loyal daughter of Michigan, no matter which state I live in; and recent research on ancestry.com suggests that there is more German than Dutch in my background, family tradition and beliefs to the contrary. But I’m too old a filly to change my “tertiary allegiance,” if you take my meaning — I’ve rooted for Holland when they weren’t up against USA in anything over the years, especially at the Winter Olympics. So my best wishes both to the incoming king and his family, and to the outgoing Queen Beatrix as she returns to being a princess, in the tradition of her mother and grandmother.
One of the prettiest national anthems on the planet is Het Wilhelmus, which I first heard in the Seventies over a hissy shortwave radio that I had oh so carefully tuned to the proper frequency for Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (the Dutch version of the BBC World Service, but now sadly off the air), and then prayed that atmospheric conditions would hold. It helped a lot that Radio Nederland maintained a transmission relay station in Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles, aimed at North America, which meant a good signal if I could get past the BBC. I’d recognize two pieces of music on that station: the “interval tone” of a set of carillon bells, played beginning at 5 minutes before the night’s programming began to help listeners tune in; and, on Sunday nights, Het Wilhelmus, in an instrumental version, which closed off the weekly Happy Station program.
The full song, it should be noted, is fifteen stanzas long! Usually, only the first and sixth verses are sung at most — more typically just the first, just like in the United States. (How many of us know anything of “The Star-Spangled Banner” beyond the first verse (grin)?)