Dutch king 'regrets' royal lockdown holiday

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima take part in the recording of a personal video message in which the king discusses the cancellation of their holiday to Greece. AFP/Koen van Weel/ANP

AMSTERDAM - King Willem-Alexander said the Dutch royal family regretted going on holiday despite a partial coronavirus lockdown in the Netherlands, admitting "it hurts to have betrayed" people's trust.

The Dutch king and queen cut short a holiday to their luxury home in Greece on Saturday, a day after departing from Amsterdam on a government jet.

The move followed a storm of indignation after the royals' travel plans leaked out amidst new anti-coronavirus rules and the government urging people to limit international travel.

"With regret in my heart I turn to you," Willem-Alexander said in a video message, broadcast with Queen Maxima.

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"Our journey to Greece has provoked strong reactions from many Dutch people. It hurts to have betrayed your trust in us," the king said.

The Dutch government last week ordered the closure of all bars, restaurants and cannabis "coffee shops" for around four weeks under what Prime Minister Mark Rutte called a "partial lockdown" to curb a surge in Covid-19 infections.

The Netherlands recorded 8,764 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a new daily record, as the country struggles to get to grips with one of Europe's highest rates of new infections.

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"Even though the journey was in line with the regulations, it was very unwise not to take into account the impact of the new restrictions on our community," Willem-Alexander said.

"Our own decision to return was made with the realisation that we should not have gone," he added.

Although still well-loved by the Dutch, the royal holiday row comes at a time when Willem-Alexander faces growing criticism for being out of touch, with the Rutte government recently ordering a review of the annual royal budget. 

Source
AFP