King Willem-Alexander focused on the tone of the social debate in his Christmas speech. In the speech, which was largely devoted to the corona pandemic, he drew attention to people who do not feel at home “with firm views” and sometimes doubt or change their opinion.
“You may be tired of excitement, suspicion and fanaticism. Tired of the manic opinion machine,” said the king. “Even the soft voices deserve to be heard.”According to Willem-Alexander, “sharp debates about outspoken views or radical ideas” belong to a free society. “But the hallmark of a free society is precisely that there is also room for nuance.” He called irony and self-perspective “always the best medicine for a pent-up mood”.”We humans were not created to hate each other,” he added. “A country in which people approach each other a little lovingly is a country where people can feel at home, even in times of great uncertainty.
“In 2016 and 2017, the King’s Christmas speeches also set the tone in the social debate. He then said that the extreme seems to be becoming the new normal and also said that “Twitter sometimes makes the debate bitter”. Now he explicitly reflects on it again, says Royal House reporter Kysia Hekster. “Apparently that is really something that he finds very important and that he is concerned about. As a king, he does not want polarization, but connection.”
(Speech is in Dutch)
‘Not the Christmas we hoped for’
Willem-Alexander also extensively discussed the consequences of corona. “At the end of a tough year, this is not the Christmas we had hoped for,” said the king. “In homes all over the Netherlands, chairs remain empty, while we would have been more than happy to bring in extra chairs.”
He began his talk with memories of encounters he had with health care workers and others who are directly feeling the effects of the crisis. “The corona pandemic awakened the very best in us,” Willem-Alexander continued. “But she also confronted us with the sharp and uncomfortable sides of ourselves and society.”
‘Will meet again’
He expressed his support for those whose lives have been turned upside down and thanked everyone “who has tried to stick to the rules through trial and error in recent months.” According to Hekster, this sentence also applies to the king himself. “His previous speech in October was a penance for his aborted vacation to Greece. He knows from his own experience how difficult it is.” Willem-Alexander concluded his speech with a preview of the coming year, in which many Dutch people will be vaccinated against the corona virus. “We will be able to meet and hug each other again.”