Thursday, 30 April 2009

11.49

Just watching the Queensday celebrations on national television. Queen Beatrix was taken through the city of Apeldoorn, watching a historical parade passing by her in a major thoroughfare. About 200,000 people were present, and as per usual in the last 28 years, it was a family occasion. For the royal family, for every family in the land. Some had emptied their attics and garages to sell any bricabrac on the roadside. Others were taking part in street fairs and games.

11.49
The white open-topped bus turned right from the Loolaan into the access road towards Palace 't Loo. A crash was heard and the TV camera veered left to focus on a small black car that careered across the intersection at speeds of 45 to 60 mph. It crashed into the Needle, a monument to Queen Wilhelmina and came to a shuddering halt. A police cyclist narrowly avoided being swept off, but dozens of others were not so lucky. Some were lying motionless, strewn across the junction, bleeding profusely. The driver was stabilised in his car by police. The coach with the royal party sped off, speeding up from the previous 2 mph to reach the safety of Palace 't Loo.

Queensday is a festive occasion, in which all Dutch people unite to have fun and celebrate. It carries happy childhood memories. It has been a long time since I took part in the celebrations; I think about 33 years ago. It is 12 years ago since I last was in Holland to witness the events on TV. In this village, celebrations were due to start at 1pm.

Instead, flags were lowered to halfmast. Celebrations were called off, scaled down, shortened or phased out. Reactions vary from upset to angry. An ashen-faced Queen appearing on television, showing her 71 years of age.

Why? A man loses his job, and his ability to pay his rent. Due to be evicted tomorrow. He takes his car the 30 km north to Apeldoorn, determined to crash into the Royal bus. He is injured in hospital, facing charges of murder, manslaughter and attempting to assassinate the royal family. Four people are dead, 13 are injured, of whom 8 seriously.

A dreadful closure to a dreadful year, starting on 1 May 2008 with the death of my mother.
11.49 on 30 April 2009. The time nobody in this country is likely to forget in a hurry.

5 comments:

lunarossa said...

A dreadful event. When I heard the news I couldn't believe it, especially because it took place in Holland, a very civilized country. I'm sorry about the loss of your mother. I'm sure that, although one year has passed, it still hurts you. Juts keep her close in your memory. Take care. Ciao. Antonella

Jane said...

So sad with the loss of lives on what should have been a happy ocassion.
Thinking of you and your mother today Guido.

Connies Photos said...

What an awful tragedy...praying for all...
Hugs to you Guido...

Gerry said...

Sorry to read this, but somewhat similar incidents are occurring in our country too when some are so frustrated with job loss or some such they take out their rage on hapless innocent people. That is the terrible downside of this recession, depressed people destroying themselves and carrying others into the maw with them. Gerry

Lori said...

Tragic and senseless! It's a shame other people's lives were lost because this one man was distraught.