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As a recent immigrant to the Netherlands, I’m not yet over my obsession with the Dutch Royal Family. They’re so normal yet fascinating. One of the best days of the year as a visitor to the Netherlands or as a resident of the Hague is Prince’s Day as it’s our chance (as plebs) to see the royal family in their splendor in person. This past Prince’s Day, I saw Queen Maxima in person and it was great. These are my tips for attending Prince’s Day in the Hague with a brief explanation of what happens on Prince’s Day.
When is Prince’s Day?
Prince’s Day occurs on the third Tuesday in September. This is when the Dutch royal family will depart from Noordeinde Palace prior to heading towards the Binnenhof. Once at the Binnenhof, the reigning monarch will give a speech outlining the policy priorities for the upcoming year. (They’re typically not too controversial.) For 2019, Prince’s Day will be on September 17th!
What happens on Prince’s Day
In the days prior to Prince’s Day, there will be practices by the Dutch Royal Palace in costume, a hat walk (yes you read this right; for hat lovers and designers), and a market. Check the schedule beforehand if you can’t make Prince’s Day itself, but want to experience the events!
The royal carriage procession from the Royal Stables
Around 12-12:30pm, the horses with the royal carriage will depart from the Royal Stables en route to Noordeinde palace. This area is fairly closed off although considerably less crowded compared to other areas.
Royal family departs from Noordeinde Palace
Arrival at Binnenhof / Speech at the Ridderzaal
Once the King arrives at the Binnenhof, he heads to the Ridderzaal to make his speech outlining the priorities for the coming year. After this, the Royal family returns to Noordeinde Palace prior to waving goodbye to the crowds from the balcony.
The best places to experience Prince’s Day
Across from the Royal Stables (if you love horses and uniforms)
If you love horses, people in old fashioned uniforms, and a good fairy tale, you’ll love the view from the Royal Stables. From here, you can’t see the King and Queen, however you can get a full view of the military procession that comes out of the Royal Stables.
I really enjoyed the view,
Along Lange Voorhout to view the full procession
For the money shot of Queen Maxima waving at everyone, you’ll need to head towards Lange Voorhout. Just know that security is very tight and the typical routes in the Hague make it much harder to get to Lange Voorhout, however if you’re willing to get here an hour early and you have a good camera, you should be able to get a great photo.
This was the most secure location by far and I was unable to get remotely close, however to see the royals waving from the balcony as well as departing, you’ll want to see if you can get close to Noordeinde. It will be hard!
Grandstands (if you hate standing!)
For those who can’t/don’t want to stand for at least an hour, I recommend purchasing a ticket for a reasonable price from the Hague Tourism Office (~17 euros) to be in the Grandstands. The entire procession as well as the carriage with the Queen/King inside will stop here. This is a great place to get photos, but of course, it is not free.
Tips for attending Prince’s Day in the Hague
Decide on your spot early
One of my mistakes from last Prince’s Day was not having a plan. I first started at the Royal Stables before sprinting along the route trying to reach Lange Voorhout. It was too late to get a good view of the procession, but the less you move, the better it will be as you will see more of the procession without fighting the crowds.
Wear something festive
Why not use this as an excuse to wear something fun? Whether it’s a festive hat or just painting your face, why not? 😉
If you intend to get closer to any of the areas that are more secure, avoid backpacks as well as large bags. The police presence is quite tight and you’re likely to get through the barricades much more efficiently if you don’t have much on you.
Use the toilet ahead and avoid drinks
This is a no-brainer, but if you’re waiting to see the King and Queen float by on their carriage, you’ll want to keep your spot. Use a toilet in the hour beforehand at a nearby cafe and avoid drinking anything.
Take your bike or the tram. Park it.
Having a bike on Prince’s Day was a nightmare for everyone involved. Getting through the crowds was hard for people trying to avoid the mess and it was even harder with a bike. Park your bike out of the way of the whole area or take the tram. I recommend staying on foot as it will make it far easier!