Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands’ first official act after all the inauguration celebrations was her speech from the throne on Prinsjesdag (Literal translation: Little Prince’s Day) on 20 September 1898. During Queen Wilhelmina’s minority, her mother had handled the speech from the throne. Queen Wilhelmina had attended the 1897 speech from the throne with her mother, and after the end of her regency, Queen Emma still often joined her daughter for the speech.
Prinsjesdag is the day on which the reigning monarch addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives to set out the main government policies for the coming parliamentary session. The assembly of the States-General usually takes places in the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) though during Queen Wilhelmina’s early reign it was held in the assembly room of the House of Representatives as the Ridderzaal was being renovated.
The glass coach
The golden coach
Queen Wilhelmina had received a Golden Coach for her inauguration, and although this became the traditional coach to use during Prinsjesdag later (not currently, as it’s being renovated), it was first used for Prinsjesdag in 1903. Before this, Queen Wilhelmina used the Glass Coach. Queen Wilhelmina missed just four years in total. In 1908 and 1909, she was pregnant and subsequently gave birth to Princess Juliana and was thus absent. In 1911, she was annoyed with the Speaker of the House of Representatives as he did not withdraw from his post as she wished him to do and subsequently refused to hold the speech. She was ill in 1947. If the monarch is not available, the speech is held by a member of a commission on behalf of the monarch.
Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Emma travelled together in the Glass Coach through The Hague for her first Prinsjesdag. To give as many people as possible the chance to see them, the way back was a bit longer. While Queen Emma was dressed in black velvet, Queen Wilhelmina wore a white satin dress with silver embroidery. She also wore the ribbon of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. She also wore a small hat with three curled feathers. When her six-minute speech was over, the attendees cheered, “Long live the Queen!” and “Long live the Queen Mother!” Once the two Queens were back at Noordeinde Palace, they showed themselves in the window to the public.1