The origins of King’s Day
King’s Day is one of the most spectacular holidays of the year in Holland. The Dutch have celebrated it on 30 April, the birthday of our former Queen Juliana, since 1949. Prior to 1949 Queen’s Day, as it used to be called, was celebrated on 31 August, which was the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina. From 2014 onwards the Dutch will celebrate King’s Day on 27 April, which is the birthday of our new King Willem-Alexander.
Even before the first Queen’s Day celebrations, the nation celebrated Princess’ Day on 31 August 1885. It was the initiative of the editor-in-chief of a liberal newspaper who wanted to emphasise national unity.
When princess Beatrix succeeded her mother in 1980, the nation continued to celebrate Queen’s Day on 30 April. This was decided at the time of the investiture, in part because Beatrix wished to honour her mother and in part because her own birthday on 31 January is not the most auspicious day for a holiday celebrated outdoors. Since 2014, we celebrate King’s Day on 27 April, the birthday of our new king, Willem-Alexander.