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Tight security during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Amsterdam

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Security will be tight when Dutch Queen Beatrix, crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Máxima are taking part in World War II Remembrance Day events in Amsterdam this evening.

They are attending the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the war monument at Dam square, four days after a freak attack on the Netherlands’ royal family during last week’s Queen’s Day Celebrations.

A 38-year-old man, apparently despondent after losing both his job and his home, rammed his car into a crowd of people waving at the royal family driving by in an open-top bus. It is believed the man intended to crash into bus, but his speeding car — badly damaged after hitting road blocks and people — veered off course and smashed into a stone memorial. Six people were killed and the driver later also succumbed to his injuries.

Authorities expect that in response to the attack on the hugely popular royal family more people than usual will want to attend tonight’s ceremony at Dam Square. However, due to the extra security measures there will be less room for onlookers than there was in previous years.

Extra snipers will be deployed during the event, and many plainclothes officers will mix with the crowd.

As in previous years, windows facing Dam square must be closed between 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm. In addition, Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen has announced that between 4:00 pm and 9:00 pm no one may be on a balcony, loggia or roof with a direct view of Dam square.

Remembrance Day and Liberation Day

Until 1961 the annual Remembrance Day, on May 4, commemorated only Dutch victims of World War II. Since that year, the event commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.

On May 5 each year the Dutch celebrate the liberation of the Netherlands from the German occupation of 1940 to 1945. The nation was liberated largely by Canadian troops, with the assistance of the British and American Armies.

Liberation Day is celebrated with festivals throughout the country.

Queen Beatrix will attend the traditional Liberation Day closing concert on the Amstel river in Amsterdam. The program has been toned down in memory of the victims of last week’s attack.

Queen’s Day to continue

After the attack some people somewhat understandably declared that Queen’s Day would never be the same again. Others overreacted to a greater degree, wondering whether the royal family — which enjoys great popularity among the Dutch — could continue to participate in such public celebrations.

However, several newspapers, citing sources close to the royal family, said Queen’s Day would go ahead as usual next year, and Queen Beatrix and other members of the royal family will continue to make appearances in public.

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Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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