In the straightjacket of the monarchy
In Majesty Van den Boogaard sketches an exceedingly convincing and insightful portrait of Queen Beatrix as a modern queen who has to maintain her position in the tight straightjacket of a democracy. He shows her personal and political concerns to be tightly interwoven. We see a national political leader who has learned to split herself into two personalities, an official and a private one. One that goes along obediently with the demands of protocol, and one that rebels against these limitations and forcefully defends her freedom to do as she pleases.
This story was prompted by an imaginary difference of opinion with Prime Minister Balkenende in 2003 about a passage in the speech that the Queen traditionally delivers on the day that the government budget is officially presented. It concerned a phrase about aid to Africa, the continent that was so dear to the Queen’s late husband, Claus von Amsberg, and where she shared so many happy times with him. As a tribute to Claus, Beatrix wanted to make an unqualified case for aid, but the Prime Minister demanded that she deliver the more noncommittal, veiled words of the government. Other problems haunted the monarch, like the question of succession, for which her eldest son was considered to be incapable and also seemed insufficiently motivated. In addition there was the issue of his Argentine girlfriend Máxima, whose father had been a minister in the cabinet of the Argentine dictator Videla. These vicissitudes resembled the ones surrounding the Queen’s own marriage because in the sixties she married a German when that was still an emotionally charged subject. That led to riots, as had also happened at the time of her coronation in 1980, when squatters using the slogan No home, no throne (Geen woning, geen kroning) turned Amsterdam into a battlefield with the police.
Using these issues and many others, Van den Boogaard sketches an intimate picture of the Dutch queen, her political and personal dilemmas. In fifty short chapters, like a film with quick cuts, the author shifts between the present and the past and also between fact, fiction, and specula- tion. His moving portrait is convincing because of the sublime, majestic style of each and every sentence.