Dutch Royal family visit the six Dutch Caribbean

Den Haag, juli 2020: De Prinses van Oranje in Paleis Noordeinde. Foto: RVD - Martijn Beekman


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, Her Majesty Queen Máxima and Her Royal Highness Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange, will pay a visit to the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from Friday 27 January to Thursday 9 February 2023. They will visit Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao before continuing to St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba. The visit is intended to introduce the Princess of Orange to the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The islands have put together a programme covering such topics as culture, nature, colonial history, sports and defence operations, and including meetings with island residents. The royal party will be accompanied by State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation Alexandra van Huffelen.

Bonaire, Friday 27 to Saturday 28 January

The royal party will arrive in Bonaire on Friday afternoon, where they will be welcomed by Governor Edison Rijna. On Saturday morning the governor will receive the party at his official residence, together with members of the island council and island executive.

The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will then visit the slave huts at Witte Pan, which are reminders of the history of slavery in Bonaire. Following this they will travel along the west coast and attend Nos Zjilea at Cultural Park Mangazina di Rei, an event which highlights Bonaire’s cultural and historical heritage. The party will view an exhibition on the island’s history. Young people will tell them about their local area, a family of four generations will bake bread in a stone oven and primary school children will perform with their learning orchestra. This will be followed by a lunch with Bonaire residents at Arawak.

In the afternoon the party will watch a windsurfing demonstration in Sorobon Bay. Bonaire is reputed for its good windsurfing and the talented windsurfers it produces. The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will then talk to junior rangers from the STINAPA national park foundation about coastal nature conservation, especially of the mangroves which protect the coast. The party will tour the bay and mangroves by boat.

The visit to Bonaire will draw to a close in Kralendijk with a trip to Taste of Bonaire, a cultural market with local products, culinary offerings and musical performances.

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, Her Majesty Queen Máxima

Aruba, Monday 30 January

On Monday morning the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will arrive in Oranjestad, where a welcome ceremony will take place on Wilhelmina Square. Following a meeting with Governor Alfsonso Boekhoudt, the party will walk to the parliament to speak with party leaders. They will then walk to the Cocolishi building, which houses Aruba’s cabinet. There they will have lunch with the prime minister and ministers. On the way they will interact with members of the public and see performances by a local learning orchestra and youth choir.

In the afternoon the party will continue to San Nicolas, a town with an artistic vibe. At Filomena College secondary school they will attend a performance about Boy Ecury, an Aruban-Dutch resistance hero. This will take place next to a mural dedicated to him. Other colourful murals, created by local and international artists during Aruba Art Fair, will be highlighted during a walk through the town. The party will also pay a brief visit to the Museum of Industry and will watch street performances by young people, featuring breakdance, spoken word and a carnival show.

Aruba, Tuesday 31 January

In the morning the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will visit Arikok National Park. This protected area covers 20% of Aruba. The party will go on a hike in the park, meet the makers of a nature documentary about the six islands and discuss nature conservation and management with junior rangers at the Center of Cultivation. The royal party will then continue on to Royal Aruba Aloe, a company founded in 1890, where they will speak with staff and see how the company cultivates aloe vera and uses it in making skincare products.

In the afternoon the party will visit the University of Aruba. They will attend part of a lecture on Caribbean law and talk with students. The King and Princess of Orange will then visit the Soccer Academy at Compleho Deportivo Frans Figaroa, which provides training for talented young people in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB). Queen Máxima will pay a field visit to a vegetable farmer who attends a business academy run by credit provider Qredits.

In the evening the Bon Bini Festival will take place at Fort Zoutman. Following a walk around Plaza Padú, where there will be music and a presentation of local products, the royal party will watch an exploratory show on Aruban culture and history, with Caribbean music and dance.

Aruba/Curaçao, Wednesday 1 February
The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will sail from Aruba to Curaçao on patrol ship HNLMS Holland, which is stationed in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. On board they will discuss the Ministry of Defence’s operations in the Caribbean region, followed by a tour of the vessel and demonstrations. The Defence organisation works to keep all parts of the Kingdom safe. Military units stationed in the region fulfil three key tasks: to protect the Kingdom’s territorial integrity, to promote and maintain the international legal order, and to support the local authorities. For example, they carry out operations to counter drug smuggling, provide assistance in sea rescues and provide emergency relief after hurricanes.

Upon arrival in Willemstad’s St Anna Bay the royal party will be greeted by Governor Lucille George-Wout. This will be followed by a welcome ceremony marking the start of their visit to Curaçao.

Curaçao, Thursday 2 February
The visit to Curaçao will commence in Willemstad with a walk over the Queen Emma Bridge to Brión Square, where the King will give the starting signal for registration for the King’s Games. Primary school children will take part in sports contests on the square. Afterwards the party will tour the Otrobanda district, talking to residents and artists and watching musical performances. This will be followed by a lunch with representatives of the Curaçaoan authorities in the Governor’s Palace. 

In the afternoon the royal party will visit the Punda and Scharloo districts. In Punda the King will strike a coin to mark the 25th anniversary of Willemstad becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site. The party will also paint a chichi, a traditional Curaçaoan sculpture symbolising the responsible eldest sister in a family. They will then go on a walk through the Scharloo district, with street art, music and youth sports projects. The walking tour will end at Princess Amalia Bridge, where the party will listen to Amalia Waltz, a piece composed for the Princess.

In the evening a dinner will be held at the Cathedral of Thorns, attended by 21 residents who make a valuable contribution to their community. The number of guests reflects the fact that it is the royal couple’s 21st wedding anniversary on that day. 

Curaçao, Friday 3 February

In the morning the royal party will visit the Tula Museum at Landhuis Knip on the former plantation where Tula started a slave revolt in 1795. They will watch a performance about the revolt and speak with descendants of enslaved people. They will then visit Hofi Mango, a former sugar plantation that is now a nature park where, among other things, horticultural education is provided.

In the afternoon the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will attend a presentation on Cas Abao beach by Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) about protected marine areas and preserving the sea turtle population.

The trip to Curaçao will conclude with a visit to a Tumba Music Concert with carnival acts at Brión Square. The concert is being held in honour of the late Boy Dap, who is regarded as the king of Tumba, a genre of music and dance originating in Africa.

St Maarten, Monday 6 February
The King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will be welcomed at Princess Juliana International Airport by the Governor of St Maarten Ajamu Baly and Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs. The first day of the visit will focus on the country’s reconstruction following the devastation caused by hurricane Irma in September 2017. The royal party will view the airport which is currently still being rebuilt. During a visit to the emergency and disaster response services, the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will assist in a disaster exercise. They will then visit the St Maarten Medical Center. This hospital plays a key role in the region and also treats many patients from St Eustatius and Saba. The King, Queen and Princess will speak to patients and will be updated on the expansion of the hospital. They will then have lunch with the cabinet.

In the afternoon the royal party will be taken on the Color Me SXM mural walk in Philipsburg. These murals are designed to brighten up Philipsburg, as many of the town’s buildings are still vacant or damaged following the hurricane. The day will conclude with lively displays of St Maarten’s culture along a walking route and a concert on the Boardwalk in Philipsburg.

St Maarten, Tuesday 7 February 

In the morning the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will visit Fort Amsterdam. Here they will go on a birding excursion in search of the brown pelican, the island’s national bird. They will also learn about the fort’s history. They will then meet members of St Maarten’s parliament and youth parliament. At the White and Yellow Cross residential home for older people and people with a disability, the royal party will learn more about the daytime activities organised for residents. Next, they will visit a science fair, where primary and secondary school pupils will present their solutions for reducing plastic waste on the island.

In the afternoon the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will visit Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR). R4CR disburses World Bank funds to projects aimed at rebuilding St Maarten after hurricane Irma via a Trust Fund. The party will speak with representatives of civil society organisations about their projects and with young people about their work at various organisations. They will then visit a school garden project where they will talk to pupils about their work in the garden and the importance of gardening for their mental health. In Emilio Wilson Park schoolchildren will talk about their dreams for the future of St Maarten and plant yellow sage, the island’s national flower. Following this the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will visit St Peters Hill, where they will learn about nature conservation in St Maarten. This hill borders on the French part of the island. The afternoon will conclude with a youth baseball tournament.

In the evening the party will attend a reception hosted by the governor.

St Eustatius, Wednesday 8 February

The royal party will be welcomed to St Eustatius by Government Commissioner Alida Francis and will meet representatives of the island’s authorities. During a walk through Oranjestad’s historical centre they will meet a number of Statia residents who will speak about their life on the island. The history of slavery on the island will also be discussed. After the walk, the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will attend a debate with young people about their future on the island.

After a lunch with island residents, the royal party will go to Zeelandia Beach where they will hear about local nature management and the annual STATIA DOET Beach Clean Up. After this they will visit a community garden, where they will speak with farmers about the food system on the island. Because a lot of food is imported, prices are high and there is a shortage of fresh produce. The party will then join schoolchildren in a basketball practice session. The visit to St Eustatius will conclude with an event at Fort Oranje, focusing on the island’s cultural heritage.

Saba, Thursday 9 February

The royal visit will conclude on Saba. After being received by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange will hear about Saba’s energy supply. Saba aspires to become energy neutral within the next few years. The royal party will then proceed to the village of Zion’s Hill for a presentation on lacemaking, a Saban tradition. On a walk through the village of Windwardside the King and Queen and the Princess with meet local residents. At the Eugenius Center they will meet older residents who will also give a theatre performance. The party also speak with artists and business owners about their work. The party will also step into the Harry L. Johnson Museum where they will learn about life on Saba through the years.

After a lunch with representatives of the Saban authorities, the royal party will visit the Expertise Center Education Care (EC2) in St Johns, that supports vulnerable schoolchildren. The organisation won an Orange Fund ‘Appeltje van Oranje’ award in 2021. The party will then depart for the harbour, where they will find out more about Saba’s new harbour project. Scientists will tell them about a project on Diadema sea urchins, which help protect coral reefs by eating the algae that would otherwise overrun the coral. The final component of the programme will see the King and Queen and the Princess of Orange visit The Bottom where they will play sports with children on the world’s largest Cruyff Court.