Official visit to the United States of America (2)

Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will pay an official visit to the United States of America from Monday 1 June to Wednesday 3 June 2015. The King and Queen will visit Washington, D.C. – where they will have a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House – Grand Rapids and Chicago. They will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders.

The Netherlands is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its liberation in 2015, so time will be set aside during the visit to reflect on the major role played by the US in restoring the country’s independence. The visit will be an opportunity to thank the US for its contribution to 70 years of peace and freedom in the Netherlands and Europe.

The visit will also focus on the economic ties between the two countries. An economic mission on the themes ‘Feeding the City’ and ‘Healthy Ageing’ will take place at the same time as the official visit. Representatives will join the mission from the top sectors agri-food, horticulture & propagation materials, life sciences & health, chemicals, and high-tech systems & materials. The mission will visit Chicago under the leadership of Edith Schippers, the Netherlands’ Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport. In Grand Rapids Simon Smits, Director-General for Foreign Economic Relations, will take over the mission leadership.

In the week preceding this visit to the US, the King and Queen will pay a state visit to Canada, focusing there on Canada’s great contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands. Alongside the state visit, there will be a Dutch economic mission and higher education mission to Canada.

Monday 1 June

The visit to the US will begin Monday morning in the Washington area, at Arlington National Cemetery, where the King and Queen will pay tribute to the American war dead. King Willem-Alexander will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Several US veterans who took part in the liberation of the Netherlands will attend the ceremony.

The royal couple will then be received by President Obama in the Oval Office.

On Monday afternoon the King and Queen will attend an event on innovative and sustainable forms of urban renewal. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is organising this Global City Teams Challenge. About 30 smart city projects will showcase their technologies and the progress they have made in developing efficient, sustainable ways of keeping cities liveable. A joint initiative will be presented that afternoon by Amsterdam, The Hague and a number of US and Asian cities. The royal couple will view all the Dutch and US smart city projects.

Later that afternoon the King and Queen will be present at a round table discussion on sustainable development and best practices on the smaller islands of the Caribbean, including the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The gathering will be held at the World Bank.

The King and Queen will then visit Congress (on Capitol Hill), for talks with House and Senate leaders, a reception with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a meeting with the ‘Dutch Caucus’, a group of legislators with a political interest in or personal ties to the Netherlands.

On Monday evening the King and Queen and Mr Koenders will dine at the Dutch Ambassador’s Residence, where prominent policymakers and think-tank staffers will join in discussions of current issues, particularly concerning security and the economy.

Tuesday 2 June

On Tuesday morning the royal party will fly in the Dutch government aircraft to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where many Dutch immigrants live. The party will be welcomed at Gerald Ford Airport by Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who will be their host in the state. A children’s choir will greet the King and Queen.

The governor will host the party at a reception and lunch in Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, where the King will give a speech. After lunch the King and Queen will walk in the garden, plant a tree to commemorate their visit, and unveil a plaque honouring volunteers. They will then take part in a brief gathering in the park’s amphitheatre with the Dutch communities of Holland, Zeeland and other Michigan towns.

They will then proceed to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, where they will be given a tour of this facility specialised in paediatric oncology. They will also visit the Van Andel Research Institute, where research is being done on neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson’s disease. These visits will include a focus on closer partnerships being developed with Dutch institutes and hospitals like the ParkinsonNet care network of the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen.

The Meijer, De Vos and Van Andel families are all of Dutch origin.

Later Tuesday afternoon the King and Queen will leave for Chicago, where mayor Emanuel Rahm will welcome them at the Chicago Cultural Center. There will be a reception followed by a business dinner, where people from about a hundred Dutch companies will meet US corporate representatives and the King will give a speech.

Wednesday 3 June

On Wednesday morning the King and Queen will visit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one of the foremost institutes in the US in the field of clinical research into motor impairments caused by brain damage and spinal cord lesions and the treatment of such patients. The institute’s patients include many veterans. The royal couple will speak with patients who have regained movement thanks to advanced technology and prostheses. They will then attend a seminar where new Dutch-US partnerships will be launched.

At the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center, a meeting will be held for the economic mission focusing on healthy ageing. Northwestern University will join with Dutch partners to show the King and Queen several pioneering innovations, and several Dutch researchers will be offered adjunct positions at Northwestern.

A tour for the King and Queen of the newly opened Gotham Greens rooftop greenhouse will highlight advances in urban farming: greenhouse cultivation of vegetables for local delivery. Urban farming is being done on a steadily increasing scale in US cities. The new Chicago greenhouse, the largest in North America, is located above a factory, thus saving both energy and land. Climate control in the greenhouse is done by the Dutch company HortiMaX, some of the seeds are supplied by Rijk Zwaan, and Koppert is providing biological pest control.

The King and Queen will then attend the concluding session of a seminar at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy on horticulture and agribusiness, with feeding the city and healthier foods as themes. The royal couple will also be given a tour of this secondary school, whose pupils will show them projects on healthy lifestyles. Finally, the King and Queen will attend an urban picnic where civil society organisations based in the Pullman Historic District will brief them about Chicago’s strategies for revitalising depressed neighbourhoods.