This is a very promising move from Channel 5. We’ve had some excellent programmes on the recent history of the British Royal Family, but, whilst I understand that it was difficult to film new material during lockdown, there really is only so much you can say about the Abdication, the Margaret-Townsend affair and the War of the Waleses. Some programmes about the Continental royal families would be extremely welcome. The title of the programme was rather silly, because it made it sound as if Beatrix did something like Edward VIII did, rather than abdicating at the age of 75 after a 33-year reign, but the actual substance of the programme was very interesting.
The Netherlands is a fascinating country, because historically it’s very puritanical but also very liberal, and very tolerant but with strong extremist elements on several different sides, and we saw how Beatrix – and it was lovely to see her looking so well at the memorial service for Prince Philip – had to steer her way through that. She met with protests on her wedding day, because she was marrying a German, and protests on the day of her investiture, because of concerns over the Dutch Royal Family’s wealth, and she also had to deal with her husband’s long battle with depression and the death of one of her sons. She was initially seen as being very aloof, but later as being very warm – the ongoing conflict between a royal family retaining its mystique whilst at the same time being seen as relevant and accessible. And she’s been a lot more outspoken about politics than most royals have been.
I do love the way that orange is the Dutch national colour,and that that’s because of the House of Orange-Nassau (er, even if Orange itself is actually in France). I suppose that green’s the colour of the Republic of Ireland, but there isn’t a national colour of England or the UK, and it’d be nice if there was. But never mind!
All in all, this was very good, and I’m hoping that we might see some more programmes about the Continental royals. There’s certainly plenty of material to go at.