Speech from the throne
King Willem-Alexander departs at 12.50 from Noordeinde Palace in the Glass Coach to the Binnenhof, where he arrives at 13.10, accompanied by Queen Máxima. In his capacity as head of state the King delivers the Speech from the Throne in the Hall of Knights. King Willem-Alexander does not write the speech himself; the ministers do. Every minister makes a contribution in his or her field of policy and these are then compiled by the Prime Minister, and his civil servants of the Ministry of General Affairs, to form the speech.
Who are present in the Hall of Knights?
The King delivers the speech from the throne in a joint sitting of the States General, attended by members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The President of the Senate chairs the joint sitting and opens proceedings with the phrase: "The joint sitting of the States General, as referred to in article 65 of the Constitution, is hereby opened". On Prince's Day the members of the cabinet and the Council of State as well as a number of invited guests are in attendance. Moreover, seats are reserved for journalists and civilians.
Budget memorandum and national budget
At 3pm, the minister of Finance comes to the Plenary Hall of the House of Representatives carrying the famous briefcase, which contains the budget memorandum and the national budget. The National Budget consists of a number of proposals of law (bills), one for each ministry, with regard to national expenditure, obligations and national revenue for the coming year. The budget memorandum is an explanaiton of the national budget. The budget memorandum summarizes the major proposals and choices of the government and explains what these proposals will cost. It also sets out the economic and financial situation of the Netherlands.
Committee of attendance
The members of the committee of attendance accompany the King and the members of the Royal House on arrival at and departure from the Hall of Knights. The committee consists of members of the States General. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Khadija Arib, chairs the committee. Its composition changes every year.
Prince's Day: yes, but General Political Debate: no
On the days following Prince's Day, the House of Representatives usually discusses the government's plans for the coming year. This debate is known as the General Political Debate. On the proposal of the President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib, the debate was called off this year, because there still is no new cabinet. Instead, a debate will be held about the Government's Policy Statement once the new cabinet will have taken office.
This year on Prince's Day, the National Budget and the Budget Memorandum are to be presented as usual, but this is done by the outgoing cabinet, made up of the VVD and the PvdA. As a rule, an outgoing or "caretaker" cabinet refrains from making new policy, which is especially the case now that VVD and PvdA no longer have a majority in the House. The aim of the General Political Debate normally is to establish the scope for the cabinet to implement its plans in actual practice and the degree of support from the House.
In 2010 and 2012, the House decided not to hold the General Political Debate, because in those years, too, political parties were in the process of forming a new cabinet.