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Inauguration King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands: Speech by the King
30 April 2013, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
Members of the States General,
Today I stand before this joint session of Parliament to be sworn in and invested as your new King. You have gathered here in the nation's capital for this purpose as the elected representatives of the people. This symbolises our constitutional bonds.
Over the course of two centuries, the Dutch monarchy has become inextricably linked with our parliamentary democracy. This investiture and the oath I am about to take confirm this connection, which is enshrined in the Charter for the Kingdom and the Constitution.
Democracy is based on mutual trust. The people's trust in the government - one that respects the law and offers its citizens prospects for the future. But also the government's trust in the people - citizens who feel a shared responsibility for the public interest and are willing to stand up for one another. All holders of public office, whether they are elected, appointed or designated, must contribute to that trust. That is how democracy is maintained.
In her final Christmas address as Queen, my mother said, 'Achieving mutual trust is an ongoing challenge, both in the big things and the small.' For 33 years, she gave her trust, and repaid the trust placed in her. This provided the basis for her authority. She stood for the values enshrined in the Constitution. Values to which she swore to remain faithful on 30 April 1980. Values to which she gave expression whenever she felt it necessary. After all, the fact that the monarch has no political responsibility does not mean that he or she bears no responsibility at all. That would render meaningless the oath I am about to take in this joint session of the States General.
My dear Mother,
As Queen you were fully conscious of the responsibilities attached to your position. You were utterly dedicated to the duties of your office. But you were also a daughter, a wife, a mother and head of the family. And you have always sought to do full justice to each of those responsibilities. Sometimes you felt torn, but you combined your many duties with great inspiration. You never refused a request for help. Even in times of personal sorrow you supported us all in the most loving and dependable manner.
With the help of my father, you developed your own style as Queen. You never chose the easy path of fleeting popularity. You navigated stormy waters, charting a sure and steady course in the knowledge that you were part of a long tradition.
Now, I follow in your footsteps. And I have a clear picture of my duties. No one knows what the future may hold. But wherever my path leads, and however long it may be, I will always carry with me your warmth and your wisdom.
I know that I speak for many in the Netherlands and in the Caribbean parts of our Kingdom when I say: thank you for all the wonderful years in which you served as our Queen.
Each monarch fulfils his duties in his own fashion. He is a different person from his predecessor, and he is of a different time. The monarchy is not a static institution. Within the bounds of our constitutional rules it has always managed to adapt to changing circumstances. The States General and the ministers have always given the monarch the necessary scope.
At the same time, the monarchy is a symbol of continuity and unity. It is a direct link with our constitutional past. It is a historical tapestry, which together we are still weaving today. The basis for the values we share can be found in our history. One of those values is the monarch's role as servant of the people. The King performs the duties of his office in the service of the community. This deeply rooted principle was laid down by the States General as early as 1581, in the Act of Abjuration, the birth certificate of what would eventually become the Netherlands.
I succeed to the throne at a time when many in the Kingdom feel vulnerable and uncertain. Vulnerable in their jobs or their health. Uncertain about their income or the environment in which they live. It now seems less self-evident that the next generation will be better off than the last.
As individuals, we seem to have little influence over the events that shape our lives. Therefore our power lies not in isolating ourselves but in working together. As families and as friends. As residents of a street or neighbourhood. As citizens of our Kingdom. And as inhabitants of an Earth confronted with countless challenges that can only be met by working together at international level.
Unityanddiversity. Individualityandadaptability. An appreciation of traditionanda healthy curiosity about what the future will bring: these are the qualities which over the centuries have made us who we are today.
Our need to explore frontiers and set new boundaries has taken us a long way. We have five remarkable Dutch individuals here who are symbols of that. Today they fulfil a traditional role,* but they are also living proof of what we are capable of achieving.
Behind them stand hundreds of thousands of others who have each distinguished themselves in their own way. Their efforts are invaluable, too. The hope of our country rests in the combined power of all these people with all their talents, big and small. For centuries, our greatest strengths have been our inventiveness, our diligence and our openness. With such qualities, we have a great deal to offer the world.
As King, I want to encourage people to make active use of their opportunities. However great our diversity, however different our beliefs or dreams, and however varied our backgrounds, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands everyone can have a voice and can contribute to society on an equal footing.
I will take pride in representing the Kingdom, and in helping to uncover new opportunities. I want to establish ties, make connections and exemplify what unites us, the Dutch people, and not only in times of great joy or deep sorrow. Thus, as King, I can strengthen the bond of mutual trust between the people and their government, maintain our democracy and serve the public interest.
I accept this office with gratitude. I am grateful for the upbringing my parents gave me, and for the freedom I have been given to prepare for this role. Many people have helped show me the way, both in their words and in their deeds, and I would like to thank them all.
Successive governments, with the support of the States General, have given me the opportunity to play a role in various fields and so to undertake many activities both in and on behalf of the Netherlands. This work has given me a sense of what I can contribute in my position. It has also allowed me to gain a deep insight into issues, such as responsible water management, which are fundamental to our country.
My experiences at home and abroad have made me the person I am. I can say with confidence, both to myself and to the world: I accept this office with full conviction. And in doing so, I acknowledge how deeply happy I am to have the support of my wife, Máxima. She is conscious of the personal constraints her position sometimes entails. She has embraced our country and become a Dutchwoman among the Dutch people. She stands ready to apply the full range of her abilities in the service of my reign and the Kingdom at large.
Members of the States General,
Today, we stand before one another to affirm our mutual responsibilities and obligations. The Charter for the Kingdom and the Constitution are our common foundation. Through good times and bad, let us build on that foundation in the full confidence that together we can face the future with our heads held high.
With that conviction, I aim to fulfil my duties as King with all the strength I am granted.
I swear to the peoples of the Kingdom that I shall constantly preserve and uphold the Charter for the Kingdom and the Constitution.
I swear that I shall defend and preserve the independence and the territory of the Kingdom to the best of My ability; that I shall protect the freedoms and rights of all its citizens and residents, and shall employ all means placed at My disposal by the law to support and promote the Kingdom's welfare, as is incumbent upon a good and faithful King.
So help Me God!