Tuesday 20 September the Queen will drive in her Golden Coach to "Het Binnenhof" for the opening of the Parliamentary Year. Prince Willem-Alexander, Princess Máxima, Princes Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Princess Margriet and Mr.Pieter van Vollenhoven will accompagny her.
State Opening of Parliament (Prinsjesdag)
On Prinsjesdag, the Queen delivers her Speech from the Throne to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.
The speech sets out the government's plans for the coming year. Article 65 of the Constitution refers to the Speech from the Throne as follows: “A statement of the policy to be pursued by the government shall be given by or on behalf of the King before a joint session of the two Houses of the States General that shall be held every year on the third Tuesday in September or on such earlier date as may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.”
The Constitution does not stipulate the speech’s length, content or order, which may vary from year to year.
The most recent Speeches from the Throne: 2004
Procession of the Golden Coach
On the stroke of one, the Queen, normally accompanied by other members of the Royal House, leaves Noordeinde Palace for the Binnenhof, escorted by court dignitaries and a military escort of honour. Outside the palace stand an escort of honour and a military band.
The Queen travels to the Binnenhof in the Golden Coach. During the procession, salutes are fired at one-minute intervals to let the people know that the head of state is on her way to the joint session of the States General.
As the Queen arrives at the Binnenhof, a band by the steps strikes up the “Wilhelmus” (see national anthem
). The Queen and other members of the Royal House salute the flag and mount the Ridderzaal’s steps, above which hangs a canopy.
At around 12:30 on Prinsjesdag, the members of the Senate and House of Representatives enter the Ridderzaal.
They sit opposite and to the left and right of the throne. The ministers and state secretaries sit to the left of the throne. Behind them sit members of the Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body. They all sit in the “enceinte”, an area enclosed by unobtrusive wooden barriers symbolising that the head of state is in conference with Parliament.
Outside the enceinte are seats for the other High Councils of State, senior civil servants, high-ranking officers of the armed forces, senior members of the judiciary, the Queen’s Commissioner of the province of South Holland, the mayor of The Hague and specially invited guests.
Ceremony in the Ridderzaal
The president of the Senate presides over the joint session. Shortly before 13:00, he opens the meeting and then appoints a number of ushers from among the members of the two Houses to escort the Queen and her entourage.
The ushers receive the Queen and the members of the Royal House at the entrance to the Ridderzaal. The president of the joint session then announces the arrival of the head of state: a signal for all those present to stand. The Queen then proceeds to the throne, from where she delivers her Speech from the Throne.
“Long live the Queen”
After the Queen’s closing words, the president cries “Long live the Queen”, which is followed by three cheers from everyone present. The first time this happened was in 1897, when the young Wilhelmina accompanied her mother, Queen Regent Emma.
This brings an end to the joint session of the two houses. The ushers escort the Queen and members of the Royal House to the door. The president then closes the session.
When the Queen leaves the Ridderzaal, the escort of honour again forms in the Binnenhof, and the procession returns to Noordeinde Palace.