Speech by His Majesty the King at the gala dinner for the Diplomatic Corps, Royal Palace Amsterdam, Tuesday 9 April 2019

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to Amsterdam Royal Palace. My wife and I are delighted to have you as our guests this evening.

This annual dinner with you is a tradition we hold dear. It’s one of the ways we can show how much we appreciate your work and your commitment.

You have taken our country to your hearts.

We felt that in your many expressions of sympathy and solidarity after the attack in Utrecht last month.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has always attached great importance to international cooperation. We believe it’s the best, and perhaps only, guarantee of a good life for people here and all over the world. That’s why our Kingdom is an active participant in countless international organisations. And that’s why we – together with you – are doing our best to strengthen the international legal order.

It isn’t always easy to think and act in the collective interest. Fear of losing control and influence can undermine the search for common solutions. In an increasingly chaotic world, it may seem that the safest option is to stick to your position. But that won’t get anyone very far.

It takes courage to admit you don’t have all the answers. It is a sign of strength to seek cooperation and to help shoulder responsibility for the greater good. We welcome everyone who is willing to join us in these efforts!

In this day and age, we need people who will keep reaching out to others. People with curiosity and empathy. People who dare to step out of their comfort zone. They are the ones sowing the seeds for a better future.

This is even more evident from a historical perspective. In October of next year we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The international community can be proud of what has been achieved with the UN as the driving force.

The Netherlands was mindful of this last year during its term as Member of the Security Council. Great progress was made on important issues, such as combating poverty, creating equal opportunities for women, health and respect for international law. We all have to continue working together, also when it comes to new challenges, like climate change!

In shaping a world we want our children to inherit, creativity is a must. Now in our midst we have sixty people who embody exactly that. They represent Dutch art and culture in all its diversity.

Writers, musicians and theatre makers.

Visual artists, designers and architects.

Museum and festival directors.

Guardians of our shared cultural heritage.

They are our ‘cultural ambassadors’. I hope that you will seize this opportunity to make their acquaintance or get to know them better.

In this ‘Year of Rembrandt’, we are celebrating the life of perhaps the greatest of all Dutch artists. 350 years after his death, his work has lost none of its magic.

Rembrandt painted self-portraits with headwear from all over the world: woollen caps, stately turbans, fur hats and dashing berets.

As far as we know, Rembrandt never travelled abroad, despite his fascination for people from other cultures. He observed many of them in the cosmopolitan streets of 17th-century Amsterdam, but also in books and prints. They fired his imagination and inspired his masterpieces. Their portraits grace the walls of museums and galleries in the Netherlands and around the world.

Beauty is something we all appreciate, whatever our cultural background. That is the power of art!

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that this evening will bring you enjoyable encounters and fresh inspiration!

May I ask you to raise your glasses with me.

To encounters between cultures.

To friendship and cooperation!