Prominent presence of Defence organisation in royal escort
The royal couple received a gun salute as they proceeded to the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square. In line with the tradition accompanying the investiture of a new Head of State, the guns of the Royal Netherlands Army’s Gele Rijders fired their salute at 5-second intervals from the south bank of the IJ lake. On their way to the church, King Willem-Alexander and his wife were accompanied by a royal escort, which included delegations from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marechaussee.
Other members of the escort were the Kings of Arms and the Heralds. One of the Kings of Arms was the former Chief of Defence, General (ret’d) Peter van Uhm, who announced the new King inside the church.
The Sword of State, the symbol of regal power, and the Standard of the Kingdom, the symbol of the nation, were carried by the Chief of Defence, General Tom Middendorp, and the Inspector General of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General (MC) Ton van Ede respectively.
Other participants of the escort were Captain (MC) Jurjen Abma, who was awarded the Cross of Merit for his bravery in Afghanistan, and Captain Arno Mulders, who was injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and is now working to promote the interests of service members wounded in action.
Colours and standards are important symbols in military ceremony. They represent military virtues such as loyalty, unity and honour. Military personnel swear the oath or make the affirmation on the colour or standard of their unit. Colours and standards also contain references to feats of arms by which the unit has distinguished itself. All of the colours and standards were featured in the royal escort or in the Nieuwe Kerk.
First Lieutenant Arija Roelofs of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee was given the honour of joining the royal escort as aide-de-camp to the Chief of Defence, and therefore able to witness the investiture at very close range. “I think every moment of the day will leave a huge impression. It is all very exciting and I hope I will not be distracted too easily when I walk the carpet.", she said beforehand.
The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee played a prominent role during the ceremony anyway. Marechaussee personnel in ceremonial dress guarded the so-called credence table in the Nieuwe Kerk. On this table were the regalia or royal insignia, which symbolise the power and dignity of the King. They were commissioned by King Willem II and manufactured in 1840 by several goldsmiths. The Nieuwe Kerk had a double sentry guard as well as a double row of 10 marechaussees posted outside. Double sentries are posted at all entrances of buildings where members of the Royal House arrive and depart.