Speech by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander at the state banquet during the State Visit to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Buckingham Palace

Your Majesty,

My wife and I are delighted to be able to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom, and above all to find you in good health, as vigorous and engaged as ever.

I appreciate how special this occasion is.

My grandparents came here on a State Visit. My parents did too. Today it is our turn. And all within your long reign.

Last year you celebrated your Sapphire Jubilee. That is deeply impressive to someone who has yet to reach their Bronze Jubilee…

In recent decades, you have seen your country, Europe and the world change enormously. The world looks to you as a trusted beacon in the midst of upheaval.

Your ability to keep in touch with the times is striking. You even have an adventurous streak, as you showed six years ago at the opening of the Olympic Games.

In front of millions of viewers you played the role of the most fearless Bond Girl ever – with great panache!

Our countries are North Sea neighbours. The sea has made us natural allies; both outward-looking, both curious as to what lies beyond the horizon.

Sir William Temple, the famous English diplomat, who was ambassador in The Hague 350 years ago, called the Dutch 'the most obstinate lovers and defenders of their liberty’. It’s a trait we definitely share with the British.

A trait that has sometimes led to conflict between us, as competitors and rivals.

But much more often, it has brought us together and united us.

The Glorious Revolution of Mary and William is a good example. A peaceful change of government that bolstered the rights of Parliament.

Or take the bonds forged between us during the Second World War, and the unimaginable sacrifices British armed forces made for our freedom.

Or our current joint defence efforts, including the UK/NL Amphibious Force, which we will see in action tomorrow, in the heart of London. The days when our navies fought each other on the Thames are long past. These days, the Royal Marines and the Dutch Marine Corps are one team.

The United Kingdom has given the world so much. We owe much of our prosperity to the skill of British inventors, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Our culture has been enriched by the creativity of British artists, from Shakespeare to Monty Python and the Beatles. Today, global communication knows no borders, because English has become the world’s lingua franca.

Many Dutch people feel a great affection for this country.

The charms of the Fairest Isle extend to the other side of the Channel!

As Europeans it therefore saddens us that the United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union.
We are sorry to see you go, although we fully respect your decision.

At present, a lot of attention is focused on the ‘technical’ side of Brexit. That’s understandable and necessary.

But in the midst of all that complexity we should not lose sight of the greater narrative that continues to bind us. The greater narrative of freedom, openness and cooperation. Of growth and a prosperity whose fruits are enjoyed by all.

Of strong, self-confident European countries that speak out on the world stage, and that together dare to make a stand against cynicism and abuse of power.

That is why we need each other. That is what unites us, time and again. And that is where our strength lies as natural allies.

Your Majesty,

We are most grateful that, by inviting us here, you have underlined the special bond between our Kingdoms. Now, more than ever, we must cherish that bond.

You and your family are dear to us, and with you, we delight in all of life’s joyous and festive occasions, including those among the younger generations. Let me close by wishing you and your family every future happiness.

I invite you to rise and join me in a toast.

Your Majesty, to your health and happiness and that of His Royal Highness Prince Philip. And to the friendship between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.