When a member of the Royal House dies, the prime minister announces the death on radio and television. After that, the Government Information Service is responsible for issuing information on the death, on arrangements in the days leading up to the funeral and on the ceremonial and service on the day itself.
Chapel of rest
As soon as possible after a member of the Royal House has passed away, relatives and close friends are given an opportunity to say their farewells at the deceased’s residence. The body of the deceased then lies in state for several days in a specially created chapelle ardente (chapel of rest) in Noordeinde Palace. Four military personnel or family members mount a vigil around the bier in the chapelle ardente. During the lying-in-state, members of the public can pay their last respects.
Day of the funeral
On the day of the funeral, the coffin is conveyed in a solemn procession from The Hague to the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, where the funeral service is held and the deceased is laid to rest.
The route of the procession for royal funerals starts from Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. The state funeral carriage is followed by a flower carriage and a carriage bearing a few close relatives of the deceased. At the Netherlands Defence College in Brasserkade, the rest of the family join the procession for the remainder of the journey to the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. A military guard of honour lines the entire route and is also mounted at Noordeinde Palace and the Nieuwe Kerk. Two saluting batteries in Delft fire shots at 60-second intervals from the time the procession approaches Delft until the deceased is laid to rest. The largest bell – known as the Trinity bell – of the Oude Kerk tolls as the procession makes its way through Delft.
Funeral service and interment
The funeral service includes personal touches in accordance with the wishes of the deceased and the immediate family. For example, Princess Christina sang at the services for her mother Princess Juliana and her father Prince Bernhard.
The close relatives of the deceased descend into the vault for the interment itself. This part of the service is strictly private. After the service the royal family returns to Noordeinde Palace, where royal and other guests may offer their condolences.
The Netherlands does not observe a period of national mourning. However, the prime minister may issue special instructions on when and how government buildings are to fly their flags at half-mast. Court mourning is observed, generally from the time of death until the day of the funeral.