On April the 30th the Dutch community in Moscow celebrated National Day at the magnificent Pushkin Museum in the heart of old Moscow.
The event coincided with the abdication of 75 year-old Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, and the inauguration of her 45 year-old son Prince Willem-Alexander as King.
This double whammy of Dutch history on one day created a special, almost magical atmosphere at the Moscow event, even as a million Dutch flocked to Amsterdam to celebrateÂ the generational change in the Royal House of Orange-Nassau.
During the formal part of the ceremony at Pushkin museum, many warm words were spoken about the 33 years of service that Queen Beatrix, now Princess Beatrix dedicated to her country.
Then all stood to sing the Dutch National Anthem.
This was a truly moving occasion.
What does this occasion mean to you Mr. Ambassador?
Today we have a new King! After 33 years of service the Queen has abdicated, she retired. Well, she hasnât really retired, she will keep on working, and we have a new head of state. This is something that happens once in a lifetime. So for all of us, for the Dutch people in particular, this is a very very special day. The events of today have immense significance.
Will there be any changes in Dutch-Russian relations?
I think there will be changes. The new King will bring with him a new style and a new personality, he will be King in his own manner, and his wife Queen Maxima will have her own role to play. They will represent the countryâs evolution. But I think that overall, there will be continuity. There is support within Dutch society for the Royal Family, for the institution of the Monarchy. We like the combination of a democracy and having a King as head of state. The King plays a huge role of unifying the country. This is a model that serves us well, and it will continue to be our preferred way of doing things.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Dutch community inÂ Moscow?
I am so grateful that so many Dutch people and their friends came today. I would just like to say keep working diligently with your Russian friends and partners, not only for your own interests, but because you contribute to the developmentÂ of two countries which are drawing closer together. Only 50 or 60 years ago, we were enemies, and now we are friends and partners.
I agree, I have been celebrating with all the Dutch people and the Russian people here, it really is a most amazing day, and an amazing time for us.
In Holland we always celebrate the 30th of April as Queenâs day. Everybody has a holiday, there are concerts and lots of things to do. People can take their stuff outside and sell it, so the cities become like huge markets. Some people make music, itâs a huge thing. Today is much more important because the Queen has stepped back, so Holland at this moment is going berserk. Really! In Amsterdam they have had celebrations all day and they will carry on until tomorrow morning! Itâs one big thing after another.
Do people who loved the Queen feel sad?
No, because they think that the King is ready, and she has done a tremendous job, for 33 years, so they think that she has done the right thing to step back. He has been preparing for many many years as has his wife. The Queen feels she deserves a nice pension and a quieter life, she thinks that the young people should take over now, so thumbs up for her.