Kings, queens, princes and especially princesses are subjects of eternal fascination. From fairy tales to the Sissi movies to glossy royalty magazines, we can’t seem to get enough of royalty. And as Amsterdam is getting ready for Queen Beatrix’s abdication and the investiture of King Willem-Alexander, I feel some pangs of regret about not being around other Dutch people during this last Queen’s Day. This sentiment took me by surprise: Not only have I never attended a Queen’s Day party since I moved to the United States, but I am also not a monarchist.
My objections to the Dutch monarchy stem in no small part from the undemocratic nature of an unelected head of state. The notion that my fellow Dutch citizens and I are “subjects” of our queen or king seems not only outdated, but also fundamentally at odds with self-government. Even those who defend the monarchy tend to emphasize its ceremonial character–which, ironically, makes it harder to justify the significant expenses associated with the institution.