The Bicycling Monarchs of the Netherlands

June 8, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. peculiar [pi-KYOOL-yer] (adj.) – odd, unusual, or strange
Example: The king had a peculiar habit of eating the dessert before the soup.

2. investiture [in-VES-ti-cher] (n.) – a ceremony done to confirm a position or rank
 Example: Many people gathered to witness the investiture of the newly-elected governor.

3. abdicate [AB-di-keyt] (v.) – to give up the position of being a king or queen
Example: The queen abdicated the throne and let her sister rule the kingdom.

4. smooth sailing [smooth SEY-ling] (idiom) – free from problems and difficulties
Example: The queen’s long reign was not all smooth sailing because it was characterized by poverty and poor health conditions.

5. accessible [ak-SES-uh-buh l] (adj.) – easy to approach or speak to
Example: The President makes herself accessible to her people by allotting time for public meetings.


Read the text below.

The Dutch monarchy is considered one of the most peculiar monarchies in the world, but its long history serves as a proof of the unity of the people of the Netherlands.

The monarchy is known for being relaxed and less formal, thus earning the nickname “the bicycling monarchy.” The fact that new Dutch monarchs undergo simple investitures instead of grand coronation ceremonies also contributes to such nickname.

The Dutch’s system is also known for monarchs who have high tendencies of abdicating the throne. The first Dutch monarch, Willem 1, abdicated in 1840. The past three queens, Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix, have also done the same.

The monarchy also exhibits adaptability. The roles of the monarchs underwent many changes over the centuries. For example, the monarch’s role as head of the army was recently removed.

However, the Dutch monarchy is not all smooth sailing. The royal family has gotten its fair share of scandals, mostly involving controversial marriages. In 1966, the marriage of Queen Beatrix to a German diplomat caused national riots. Even Willem-Alexander, the current king, got involved in a scandal when he married Maxima Zorreguieta, an Argentinian, in 2002. Maxima’s Argentinian parents were not even invited to the wedding.

Despite all these scandals, the monarchy remains popular with the Dutch people. As evidenced by the positive ratings in opinion polls, the Dutch people clearly respond well to the friendly and accessible image of their monarchy. In fact, the monarchy has always been successful in establishing a significant role in this changing world.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Should leaders maintain a powerful and strong image, or a friendly and accessible one? Explain your answer.
·         In your opinion, how can a leader gain a friendly, down-to-earth reputation among his people?

Discussion B

·         Are you in favor of the monarchy system? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the aspects of your government that should be improved? Tell your tutor about it.


June 8, 2013