Dutch royal honour goes to spoof nominee for fake endeavour

Order of Orange-Nassau bestowed upon bogus recipient for non-existent charitable work

The Netherlands’ king Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima sample regional cuisine during King’s Day (Koningsdag), the celebration of the birthday of the king, in Dordrecht on April 27th, 2015. Photograph: Phil Nijhuis/AFP/Getty Images

The Netherlands’ king Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima sample regional cuisine during King’s Day (Koningsdag), the celebration of the birthday of the king, in Dordrecht on April 27th, 2015. Photograph: Phil Nijhuis/AFP/Getty Images

 

The prestigious Order of Orange-Nassau has been awarded in the birthday honours list of the king of the Netherlands to a spoof nominee from a television consumer affairs show with a fictional CV and references – for his work with a nonexistent charity.

The programme’s nominee was approved without a single check by his local mayor in Utrecht, by the king’s commissioner in the province, by a national committee or by a government minister – and was, finally and most embarrassingly, signed by King Willem-Alexander.

The spoofer was nominated for his work with a fictitious charity that looks after dachshunds – the canine choice of royal courts all over Europe – and was also described as having an abiding interest in ecological gardens; issues the producers believed would ensure him the royal seal of approval.

Nominations require five references, three of which were false. The other two were in the names of real people to see if either would be contacted – which neither was.

‘Social issues’

“The two who did exist were never phoned or emailed, just not contacted at all, which is quite unbelievable,” said Jelte Sondij, presenter of the programme, Rambam, which describes itself as using “unconventional methods” to investigate social issues.

“If any of the projects with which our nominee was allegedly involved had even been Googled, those responsible for vetting the nominations would have discovered in three minutes that it was all nonsense. It was so easy, we were amazed.”

Sondij went to Utrecht last Friday evening at the start of Koninginnedag weekend – the king’s annual birthday celebration – and had the Orange-Nassau medal pinned to his lapel by Utrecht mayor Jan van Zanen.

Sondij wore a wig and a false beard, gave the name of the show’s nominee to the security staff, and was given free rein behind the scenes.

The programme has already returned the medal.