Support for monarchy falls among young Dutch, survey shows

Cost to taxpayer of maintaining royal family is main reason for disillusionment

 Dutch king Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima: will visit Ireland on a two-day state visit in June. Photograph: Patrick Van Katwijk/EPA

Dutch king Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima: will visit Ireland on a two-day state visit in June. Photograph: Patrick Van Katwijk/EPA

 

A new survey shows that support for the Dutch monarchy has fallen sharply among 18- to 34-year-olds – with just 55 per cent saying they would prefer a king or queen as head of state rather than a president.

The figure compares with 70 per cent support for the monarchy in the same age bracket in the last comparable poll, in 2007.

Supporters of the monarchy believed that the inauguration of a new king, Willem-Alexander, in 2013, would reverse the decline in the popularity of the royals. That turned out not to be the case, said researcher Sjoerd van Heck of Ipsos, which carried out the survey.

“The expectation was that he – Willem-Alexander – would modernise and rejuvenate the kingship. Unfortunately, we don’t see that reflected in our data.”

The word most commonly used by the younger age group to describe the monarchy in general, and the king and queen in particular, was “old-fashioned”.

The main reason for the disillusionment of the younger Dutch population is the cost to the taxpayer of maintaining the royal family – which figures for this year put at a total of €8.4 million, partly for personal income and partly for staff salaries.

In an unusually clear set of figures, Ipsos said that €5.8 million goes to the king, and €1 million a year goes to his wife, Queen Maxima. Both will visit Ireland on a two-day state visit in June.

Another €1.6 million goes to Willem-Alexander’s mother, Queen Beatrix, who abdicated in the same ceremony in which her son was inaugurated.

The current heir, Princess Amalia, will receive €1.5 million a year from the public purse when she turns 18, in 2021.

It is not just the 18-to-34-year-old age bracket that is questioning the right to succession of the monarchy.

In 2007, support across all three age categories questioned – 18 to 34, 35 to 54, and 55 and over – averaged out at 77 per cent. This time it is 68 per cent.

Only among the 55-plus age group is support for the royals unflagging.

“What this trend means is that in the next few years, for the first time ever, the royals will not have the support of a majority of the younger age bracket,” said Mr van Heck.

In the popularity stakes, now that the “Willem-Alexander effect” has failed to materialise, the fact is that all hope of a monarchist revival in the Netherlands now rests on the new generation – Princess Amalia and her sisters, Princesses Alexia and Ariane.