King’s Day at Home: Dutch monarch’s birthday muted by virus

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch national birthday party for their king was a muted affair Monday, dubbed King’s Day at Home because of coronavirus restrictions.

King Willem-Alexander was celebrating his 53rd birthday with his family at home in their palace in a forest on the edge of The Hague after a mass celebration in the southern city of Maastricht was canceled due to the coronavirus.

In a nationally televised speech to the nation, he paid tribute to health care workers and others battling the virus and hoped for better times ahead.

Flanked by his wife Maxima and their three daughters, Willem-Alexander said the annual holiday would be unique, “especially unique because I hope it will be absolutely the last King’s Day at Home in history.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted his congratulations to the king, adding that “he is celebrating King’s Day at home like the rest of the Netherlands. The best present we can give him is to follow that example.”

King’s Day is usually a nationwide celebration involving street parties and children selling second-hand toys in makeshift garage sales known as “free markets” throughout the country.

But early Monday, streets were largely deserted apart from queues of shoppers, observing social distancing guidelines, outside bakeries selling traditional King’s Day pastries decorated with orange frosting.

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Follow the AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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