Ceremony and background
The presentation of letters of credence is a custom dating from the late Middle Ages. Newly appointed foreign ambassadors are received by the King at Noordeinde Palace shortly after their arrival in the Netherlands. A ceremonial reception of this kind emphasises that the Netherlands highly values and respects relations with the country in question.
A state coach, drawn by two horses, collects the ambassador-designate from his or her residence in The Hague or from a hotel if he/she is resident in another country. A guard of honour and a military band are drawn up in the forecourt of Noordeinde Palace. The band plays four drum rolls, followed by the ambassador’s national anthem, after which the ambassador inspects the guard of honour. Inside the palace, the presentation of the ambassador’s letters of credence is followed by a short talk with the King.
Ambassadors are officially accredited from the moment that the King accepts their credentials. 170 ambassadors are accredited to the Netherlands. Dutch ambassadors, too, present letters of credence signed by the King to the head of state of the country to which they are accredited.
Departing foreign ambassadors who have been in post in the Netherlands for more than three years are again received by the King in audience.