Days of Yore
17m long, not an inch of respect
AMSTERDAM – The use of the 195-year-old royal tender at the investiture of King Willem-Alexander was nixed early on. Already weeks beforehand, the mayor warned of big waves in the port of Amsterdam. Big waves in the port of Amsterdam? Whatever! The no-show of the Dutch royal tender was never fully explained, but par for the craft’s sad course.
The nameless tender is burdened by a look that is just too Hollywoodesque for a monarchy that values protestant moderation. Made of oak and teak, it’s a fantasy design unrelated to anything you’ll find in Dutch maritime history. It resembles France’s Empire-style with that riot of bow and stern sculptures rooted in ancient mythology. You half expect to see Groucho Marx in that stern portico. (Photo: ca. 1900, Amsterdam. Library National Maritime Museum)
The Dutch royal tender is 17 meters long, but gets not an inch of respect. Known only as the ‘Koningssloep’ (King’s Tender), she was royally ignored for a water pageant during the April 30 festivities marking the investiture of King Willem-Alexander.
Since her launch in 1818, the tender has been a royal misfit. She has been used only 24 times in almost 2 centuries. She made her maiden voyage more than 20 years after she was launched. The occasion: the investiture of King Willem II in 1840. She was a gift from a grateful nation to his father, King Willem I. But he only liked boats with engines in them.
The only royal with a heart for the tender was Queen Wilhelmina (1890-1948). The craft was last used in 1962 for the silver wedding jubilee of her daughter, Queen Juliana. In 1983, the craft ended up in the National Maritime Museum which plans an in-water exhibit opening in late 2014.