King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and family had to cut short their holiday in Greece just hours after landing in severe criticism. The Dutch royals travelled to Athens on a government plane to begin their autumn break on Friday. But when the news became known to the wider public, it led to controversy and the family was back home on Saturday.
Parliamentarians, political pundits, royal reporters and members of the public responded bitterly when news of the unannounced vacation surfaced, NL Times reported. The Netherlands has just entered a partial lockdown on Tuesday. People of the country were advised to limit their travel to necessary trips only, and to remain home as much as possible.
King Willem-Alexanderalong with Queen Máxima and reportedly their three daughters, departed from Schiphol Airport at about 2:05 p.m. on Friday. By 9 p.m., the family released a statement announcing their plans to cut short their trip to the King's villa in the Peloponnese region. The part of Greece the Dutch royals were travelling to is currently "code yellow" and does not require a quarantine upon return to the Netherlands.
"We will end our holiday. We have seen the responses of the people to the news in the media. They are intense and they affect us. There can be no doubt about it, to get COVID-19 under control it is necessary that the guidelines are followed. The discussion about our holiday does not contribute to that," the King's statement reads.
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, was aware of the King's holiday plans, a spokesperson working for government communication office RVD told newswire ANP late Friday night. Meanwhile, health minister Hugo de Jonge, who holds dual role serving as the Deputy PM, said during a press conference that he was unaware the King and his family had left for Greece on the government-owned jet.
The MPs wanted to know why Rutte and de Jonge did not advise the King to cancel his plans. Opposition parties, too, including the Labour Party, the SP, and GroenLinks wanted to know the same.
The last time Willem-Alexander and Maxima issued an apology was during their vacation to Greece, in August. This happened after a photo was published showing them breaking social distancing guidelines on the island of Milos.