Planes, palaces and holiday homes: how the recession has hit Beatrix

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Even Beatrix is not immune from the recession, it seems. The royal household budget, foreign trips and a holiday home in Mozambique have all been cut back or given up in the last year.

The budget for the royal household was cut by 4.5% as part of the government’s austerity programme, but the queen will still receive E4.3 million per year for “general expenses.”

However, there will be no further cuts in the coming year, prime minister Mark Rutte said during a debate on the monarchy in the lower house on Thursday.

Rutte, who leads a centre-right minority government of Liberals (VVD) and Christian Democrats (CDA), strongly resisted demands for the monarchy to be reformed and given an explicitly non-political role.

Accusing his opponents of “cheese-paring” on the royal income, he said: “A second reduction would be a double reduction and that is unfair.”

The government is cutting the number of flying hours by members of the royal family from January 1 - but not for Beatrix, since she is deemed to be “permanently in service”.

Opposition parties ranging from the Socialists and the centre-left D66 to Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party (PVV) want fundamental changes to the monarchy which would make the queen a ceremonial figure with no involvement in politics.

Dutch elections are invariably followed by months of coalition negotiations, at the end of which the queen, after taking advice, invites party leaders to form a government.

But Rutte rejected the idea, saying it was “unreasonable” to exclude the head of state from the process of government.

He also said it was right that the monarch should be exempt from paying income tax or inheritance tax to preserve the royal family’s wealth for her successors. The queen is liable for other taxes, including dog licences.

The prime minister set the tone for the government’s conservative stance in his opening statement: “The monarchy is of great value to our society. Our head of state stands above party politics, but must have a firm place in the constitution.”

Crown prince Willem-Alexander has agreed to sell his holiday home in Mozambique, but a buyer has not yet been found. Rutte said: “The housing market over there is just as bad as here.”

Rutte ducked questions over Jorge Zorreguita, the Argentina father of Willem-Alexander’s bride Maxima, whose role as a minister in his country’s military junta of the 1970s has been a source of ongoing controversy.

Asked if Zorreguita should be allowed to attend his son-in-law’s coronation, the prime minister replied: “That is not an issue for the present time. I don’t want to discuss it in the full glare of the television cameras.”

Source: De Volkskrant: Liveblog - Koningsdebat: Gaat de monarchie veranderen?
Photo by Haags Uitburo

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