Prinsjesdag (Prince's Day)
Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) originally marked the birthday of Stadholder Prince William V (1748-1806) on 8 March.
In the Patriot Era, it was a popular holiday, providing an opportunity for demonstrations of loyalty to the House of Orange. This is probably why the name was chosen in the 19th century for the ceremonial opening of Parliament.
Currently, the third Tuesday in September remains the day the constitution stipulates Prinsjesdag to be held.
On Prinsjesdag, the Queen delivers her Speech from the Throne to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives. The speech sets out the government's plans for the coming year.
From 1815 to 1904, the monarch delivered the Speech from the Throne in the chamber of the House of Representatives. Since 1904, it has been held in the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) in the Binnenhof.
At around 12:30 on Prinsjesdag, the members of the Senate and House of Representatives enter the Ridderzaal.
They sit opposite and to the left and right of the throne. The ministers and state secretaries sit to the left of the throne. Behind them sit members of the Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body. They all sit in the “enceinte”, an area enclosed by unobtrusive wooden barriers symbolising that the head of state is in conference with Parliament.
Outside the enceinte are seats for the other High Councils of State, senior civil servants, high-ranking officers of the armed forces, senior members of the judiciary, the Queen’s Commissioner of the province of South Holland, the mayor of The Hague and specially invited guests.
Procession of the Golden Coach
On the stroke of one, the Queen, normally accompanied by other members of the Royal House, leaves Noordeinde Palace for the Binnenhof, escorted by court dignitaries and a military escort of honour. Outside the palace stand an escort of honor and a military band.
The Queen travels to the Binnenhof in the Golden Coach. During the procession, salutes are fired at one-minute intervals to let the people know that the head of state is on her way to the joint session of the States General.
As the Queen arrives at the Binnenhof, a band by the steps strikes up the “Wilhelmus" (National Anthem)
Ceremony in the Ridderzaal
The president of the Senate presides over the joint session. Shortly before 13:00, he opens the meeting and then appoints a number of ushers from among the members of the two Houses to escort the Queen and her entourage.
The ushers receive the Queen and the members of the Royal House at the entrance to the Ridderzaal. The president of the joint session then announces the arrival of the head of state: a signal for all those present to stand. The Queen then proceeds to the throne, from where she delivers her Speech from the Throne.
“Long live the Queen”
After the Queen’s closing words, the president cries “Long live the Queen”, which is followed by three cheers from everyone present. The first time this happened was in 1897, when the young Wilhelmina accompanied her mother, Queen Regent Emma.
This brings an end to the joint session of the two houses. The ushers escort the Queen and members of the Royal House to the door. The president then closes the session.
When the Queen leaves the Ridderzaal, the escort of honour again forms in the Binnenhof, and the procession returns to Noordeinde Palace. (Website)