Speech by His Majesty the King in light of the coronavirus

The address was given in Dutch.

In the space of just a few weeks, our daily lives have changed drastically. The coronavirus is affecting all of us. In the Netherlands, in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and in the rest of the world.

Those who are severely ill and their families are the worst affected. We deeply sympathise with the relatives of those who have died, and with those who have contracted the virus and are currently at home or in hospital.

Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

The measures that have been taken to restrict the virus are drastic but necessary. I understand your distress at not being able to visit your loved ones, your mother, father, grandmother or grandfather in their care homes. Especially now when you only want one thing: to hold their hand and comfort them.

The efforts being made in many fields are exceptional. That of course includes our doctors and nurses. You have rightly received a great deal of praise from people throughout the country. We are extremely proud of our healthcare workers and the entire medical sector. Thousands of former healthcare professionals and other volunteers are coming forward to offer their help. That’s fantastic.

We can also be proud of the specialists at the RIVM (the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), the municipal health services and all the other expert bodies that are showing us the way with information based on scientific research and knowledge based on experience. They are under enormous pressure. It’s important that we continue to place our trust in them and follow all their instructions. Their one and only aim is to get us through this crisis together as best we can whilst minimising the risks for those who are vulnerable.  

We realise all too well how essential the people are who are helping to prevent our society from coming to a complete standstill. Those working in logistics, supermarkets, the cleaning sector, ICT, education, childcare, public transport, the police and many other fields. You are carrying us through this extremely difficult time.

Without you, we simply could not manage. Thank you so much.

Our heart goes out to everyone who has deep concerns about whether their businesses will survive. Whether you are an export organisation or self-employed, this will be hitting you hard. It’s terrible to see all the years of love and hard work you put into your company suddenly endangered. The same applies to people working in the cultural sector, whose creative projects will now have been put on hold.

All the children in the Netherlands are also in my thoughts. I know how you must be feeling: excited at first about all the free time you have. But it quickly wears off. Not being able to go to school. Or to football or ballet class. Birthday parties that won’t take place. That’s quite hard.

For parents too! Suddenly you’re at home with the whole family. Forced to work from home, with little possibility of going anywhere because all sorts of outings and events you were looking forward to have now been cancelled…

It’s quite a challenge for all of us.

When people are uncertain or scared, they feel a great need for human contact. You want to share your story with someone. You want to have familiar faces around you. Leave your worries behind you for a little while.

That has become much more difficult under the current circumstances. We miss our daily routines. The sports club, coffee morning, music society, our family weekend, the church service. Missing all those things makes this situation extra difficult to deal with, especially for elderly people who are  vulnerable. 

Thankfully, there is still a lot we can do. We all know someone in our vicinity who will be needing people to look out for them. This is something we need to get through together. Many people realise that. They are keeping an eye out for others and helping out when and where they can. We cannot stop the coronavirus. What we can do is stop the loneliness virus!

Let’s make sure together that nobody feels abandoned.

Thankfully, even when you can’t visit people anymore, we have many ways to communicate: online, by phone or by post. And the Netherlands wouldn’t be the Netherlands if people didn’t spontaneously offer their help.

People willing to lend a hand in nearby care homes. People volunteering to work for a helpline. Students offering to babysit for parents in key professions. Corona has unleashed an incredible amount of positive energy, creativity and public-spiritedness.  

These are the qualities we will be needing not only for the time being, but certainly also later on should things get even more challenging.

Despite public life coming to a grinding halt, you are the ones who are keeping the heart of our society beating. Alertness, solidarity and kindness: as long as we can sustain these qualities we will be able to tackle this crisis together, even if it lasts for some time.

2020 will be a year to remember. Everyone will experience it differently. But I hope and believe that feelings of solidarity and pride will prevail and bring us all closer, as we get through this most difficult of times together.