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Today, King’s Day, or “Koningsdag", the Netherlands celebrates its place among the nations as they joyously celebrate their ruling monarch. When Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son, Willem-Alexander in 2013, “Queen’s Day” became “King’s Day” which is celebrated on the King’s birthday on April 27th of each year.

Meet Mr Paul Kuijer.  We sat down to ask a few questions on what is special about not only this day but also his nation! 

See his answers below.

The Netherlands

Mr. Paul Kuijer

NATO Communications and Information Agency 

1. What do you miss most about home?
I miss to be able to ride a bicycle here. In the Netherlands the roads are all very well made for bicycles to drive safely. Here in Belgium I have in the 21 years living here now, never touched a bicycle. I think it’s too dangerous to drive here.

Also the fact not being able to visit the “Kings Day” festivals in the Netherlands is something that is really a shame. Due to Covid not many festivals will take place anyway now.

2. What have you learned working at SHAPE in an international environment that you can take back to your national military?
As I have left the Dutch Royal Army after serving 27.5 years, and not planning to go back to it, I can only say that working here on SHAPE, or in NATO in common, has been, and will continue to be, a great pleasure and honour to be able to work with so many different nationalities and backgrounds.

3. What is something unique about the Netherlands that others might not know?
Other than the windmills, cheese and tulips, we also have a great Asian culture, thanks to our history with Indonesia. Indonesian food is adapted by almost all Dutch people, and restaurants provide fantastic Indonesian food. So if you visit the Netherlands, don’t only eat Poffertjes (little pancakes) with Heineken, but go for an Indonesian restaurant to taste that culture. Do not forget to where your wooden shoes!

4. During normal non COVID times how would you usually celebrate this national day?
We would celebrate it either with our family within the Netherlands, or here at SHAPE. We have a nice Dutch community club, called NVC (Nederlandse Vereniging Casteau) that organises the Kings Day for all Dutch people living here, including partners and children. Also members who are already pensioned are welcome to stay a member of our NVC.


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