Learn the King’s Dutch

King’s Day or Koningsdag is an all-round great reason for a feestje (party). Join the Nederlanders (Dutch) in celebrating the King by throwing in some Nederlands (Dutch) here and there! First, make sure to wish everyone a fijne Koningsdag (happy King’s Day) or learn to sing oranje boven (orange on top). And should you run into the King himself on King’s Day, don’t forget to tell him a fijne verjaardag (happy birthday)! Of course, we don’t call the King by his first name: you can say Majesteit (Majesty). His wife, Queen Maxima, is in Dutch called Koningin and their three daughters are prinsessen.

On King’s Day, the Netherlands turn orange or oranje. There’s a Dutch word for what happens when everyone dresses up in orange: oranjegekte (orange craze)! Another special Dutch word exists for orange-wearing tourists in search of celebrations on the wrong day: vergistoeristen (mistake tourists). Why is this a phenomenon with its own word, you ask? Until 2013, when King Willem-Alexander took over the throne from his mother, Queen’s Day or Koninginnedag was celebrated on April 30th. And some people apparently carry old Lonely Planets.

Fun fact: our previous Queen Beatrix’s birthday was actually in January, but she decided to stick with celebrating her mother’s April birthday for higher chances of nice weather - after all, most celebrations take place outside! Still, weather in this month can be unpredictable, as described by the Dutch expression april doet wat hij wil (April does what it wants). However good or bad, the weather in the Netherlands always makes a good ice breaker: a simple wat een weer he? (nice weather eh?) or a dramatic wat een weer he? (horrible weather eh?) is enough to pick up a conversation with any Nederlander (Dutchie).

Now, are you ready for the next level King’s Day Dutch? Learn to sing along with the volkslied or national anthem! It is called the Wilhelmus, after our Father of the Fatherland Willem van Oranje (William of Orange). Just a word of caution: don’t take this as your gold standard of Dutch, because some poetic licence was taken to create rhymes and a few words have changed meaning after they were written in the sixteenth century - which, incidentally, makes it the oldest anthem in the world. Learn the lines with this video!