The king of the Netherlands has apologised for going on holiday to Greece during a partial lockdown in the country.
King Willem-Alexander said Wednesday the Dutch royal family regretted going on holiday despite a partial coronavirus lockdown in the Netherlands, admitting ‘it hurts to have betrayed’ people’s trust.
The Dutch king and queen cut short a holiday to their private villa on the Peloponnese peninsular of Greece on Saturday, a day after departing from Amsterdam on a government jet.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima recorded a personal video message on Wednesday in which the king discusses the cancellation of their holiday to Greece
The royal couple returned to the Netherlands on Saturday (pictured) after they faced criticism for jetting off during new lockdown rules
The Dutch king and queen cut short a holiday to their private villa (pictured) on the Peloponnese peninsular of Greece
In a video statement alongside his wife, Queen Maxima, broadcast on Wednesday, King Willem-Alexander confessed that it was ‘very unwise’ to ‘disregard the impact of the new restrictions on our society.’
‘Our journey to Greece has provoked strong reactions from many Dutch people. It hurts to have betrayed your trust in us,’ the king said.
‘Our own decision to return was made with the realisation that we should not have gone.
‘From the start of the coronavirus, we have done our best. It is a difficult time for everyone.
‘We are part of this. But we are not infallible.’
The king, queen and their youngest daughter Ariane returned on Saturday, while their two eldest daughters, Alexia and future-queen-to-be Amalia came back on Tuesday, according to the NOS public broadcaster.
The trip came while people were being urged to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The royal couple pictured with their two eldest daughters, Princess Amalia and Princess Alexia. The king, queen and their youngest daughter Ariane returned on Saturday, while their two eldest daughters, Alexia and future-queen-to-be Amalia came back on Tuesday, according to the NOS public broadcaster
The royal couple said in a statement that they saw the reactions of people, ‘which are intense, and they touch us.’
The pair faced a storm of indignation after the royals’ travel plans leaked out amidst new anti-coronavirus rules and the government urging people to limit international travel.
The couple left as the Dutch government introduced new lockdown measures which included discouraging unnecessary travel, but they did not break any rules.
They said: ‘Let there be no doubt: To beat the COVID-19 virus it is necessary to follow the rules. The discussion caused by our vacation does not contribute to that.’
The Dutch government last week ordered the closure of all bars, restaurants and cannabis ‘coffee shops’ for around four weeks under what Prime Minister Mark Rutte called a ‘partial lockdown’ to curb a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Prime Minsiter Mark Rutte (pictured) admitted Sunday that he made a ‘wrong assessment’ by failing to stop the royals from flying to Greece
The Netherlands recorded 8,764 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a new daily record, as the country struggles to get to grips with one of Europe’s highest rates of new infections.
Rutte too admitted Sunday that he made a ‘wrong assessment’ by failing to stop the royals from flying to Greece.
In a letter to parliament, he said he ‘realised too late’ that the holiday ‘could no longer be reconciled with the increasing infections and the stricter measures’.
‘Even though the journey was in line with the regulations, it was very unwise not to take into account the impact of the new restrictions on our community,’ Willem-Alexander said.
Although still well-loved by the Dutch, the royal holiday row comes at a time when Willem-Alexander faces growing criticism for being out of touch, with the Rutte government recently ordering a review of the annual royal budget.
Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands were forced to apologise in August after being pictured at a restaurant in Greece while failing to social distance. Pictured: The Dutch royals with a restaurant employee
The Dutch royals took to Twitter to apologise for the snap in August, explaining that the photo was taken spontaneously and they believe it’s essential to follow guidelines in place to prevent the spread of covid-19
It also added pressure on Rutte over his response to the pandemic, with elections due in March.
It marks the second time during the pandemic that King Willem-Alexander has been forced to make an apology.
Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander responded to a backlash after being pictured ingnoring social distancing guidelines during their summer holiday in Greece in August.
The Dutch couple who visited the Greek island of Milos with their daughters Princess Amalia, 16, Princess Alexia, 15, and Princess Ariane, 13, were criticised for not practising guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus during their holiday.
A photo uploaded on social media shows Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander posing alongside an unidentified restaurant employee, less than one metre apart.
They took to Twitter at the time to apologise for not practicing the 1.5 metres apart guideline imposed by The Netherlands, in addition to not wearing face masks.