Queen Beatrix Visits Bonaire

Outsiders often don’t quite understand the relation of Bonaire to Holland. Some assume our island is part of Holland, but it isn’t at present. But it will be next year as the Netherlands Antilles get dissolved.

What Bonaire is at present is one of five islands in the country of the Netherlands Antilles (the other four being Curacao, Sint Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius), and the Netherlands Antilles are in turn part of the Dutch kingdom (or more appropriately, Queendom).

And our monarch here is Her Royal Majesty, Queen Beatrix of the Royal House of Oranje (hope I got that all right).

Queen Beatrix is paying Aruba (another country under the Dutch kingdom) and the Netherlands Antilles a visit this week.

A couple of days ago she arrived with much fanfare on Bonaire – her first stop in the Netherlands Antilles. She was greeted by members of the Antillean government as well as Bonaire’s own Lt. Governor. Because of my work on Bonaire Insider, my partner Susan Davis and I were granted a press pass and were able to take a fair number of pictures (see here and here) and trail along with her entourage for several of her stops on the island. And then yesterday, I met the Queen personally as one of the artists whose works were on display at the exhibition she opened at Kas di Arte.

That’s me handing the Queen a small token of appreciation from Linda and myself (photo by Herman Leeuwen).

What struck me the most about the Queen’s visit is the genuine love, admiration, and enthusiasm her subjects on Bonaire have for her. There was regular cheering whereever she showed up, and a real sense of pride among all the people that yes, this was their Queen.

I must say that Queen Beatrix certainly exuded an amazing amount of charm and friendliness. One look at her and her warm smile, and you just sensed that she was a nice person. Or at least that was my first gut reaction. But our Dutch house guests (one of whom is a big fan of the Queen) say that perception is very true. What also amazed our house guests and us alike was how freely she mingled with the crowds. While there were body guards in evidence, they were typically at a distance, giving the Queen free reign (pun intended).

My daugter Krystyana (holding the flag) was one of many of the local school children greeting the Queen at the airport when she arrived. The Queen just walked out of the airport luggage area by herself before Krystyana had time to register who it was, apparently (photo by Susan Davis).

Certainly Queen Beatrix does not have the power of someone like my (as an American) president, George W. Bush, but she does seem to have nearly universal approval, something Bush does not, and for me that was a very stark contrast.

Queen Beatrix left Bonaire for Sint Maarten this morning and life is returning to normal here on Bonaire once again.