Nieuws - 21 april 2011

The 'Queenlessness' of Queen's Day


'Participant Observation' is a research strategy of gathering data through participating in the phenomenon to be studied and observing it in its 'natural' environment.

Last year, I had an assignment to use participant observation on Queen's Day (30 April 2010) in the Netherlands. Interestingly, the main finding was: the 'Queenlessness' of Queen's Day.
Queen's Day is a national holiday to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands. Before participating in the celebration, my Asiatic background led me to expect to see pictures of the Queen and the Royal Family on the street, on people's T-shirts, or as souvenirs that people sell in the market. For example, it is common to see pictures of the King of Thailand in every corner of the country. One may generalize that in Asian countries there is an overflowing admiration of the king, the royal family, or other leaders.
But as I partied among the orange crowds, I found no pictures of the Queen; I hardly even heard any talk about her. Talking with my Dutch friends over beers and strolling around the market,
I found out that the emphasis is not on the Queen herself. Queen's Day is more about taking a day off with friends and family, checking out the 'free market' (vrijmarkt), and enjoying music performances-both on land and in boats on the canals. The Queen is not present in pictures, but by being thoughtful enough to give the nation a day off on a lovely spring day in April instead of on her real birthday in the horrible winter month of January. 
Steisianasari Mileiva (Indonesia), MSc ­Development and Rural Innovation