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The Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has the 16th highest nominal gross domestic product in the world. This becomes more impressive when one realizes the Dutch have the 61st largest population.  Holland’s long history of trade and empire has combined with its own native tradition of artistic excellence to leave the country littered with all manner of treasures and masterpieces.  The country is a parliamentary democracy ruled by a beloved sovereign, Queen Beatrix.  If you say anything censorious about the reigning monarch to a Dutch subject, you are likely to get a scowl and some harsh words (or possibly a fist).  At times, the personal net worth of Queen Beatrix has been reckoned to surpass that of the Queen of England (depending on the art and financial markets).

So what is the crown of the Queen of the Netherlands like? Actually the crown, which symbolizes the sovereignty of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (which presently consists of the Netherlands in Western Europe and two overseas territories in the Caribbean: the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba) and represents the dignity of the sovereign as head of state, is of comparatively recent construction.  It was made in 1840, upon the abdication of King William I, and it differs substantially from the heraldic crown of the house of Orange (which–being heraldic–exists only in depictions).   The actual crown is very small.  It appears to be gold but it is actually constructed of silver covered with thin gilding.  The crown has no actual jewels but is ornamented with colored glass, foil, and artificial pearls.  These “pearls” which are the chief feature of the royal headdress are constructed from paste covered with fish skin.

For some reason the Dutch kings and queens have never chosen to wear the crown during coronations, but the object has always been present on a special table.  The crown has only appeared in public during coronations (in 1898, 1948, and 1980), during a royal funeral in 1934, and at an exhibition in 1990.  Below is the largest picture I could find.

Um...the Royal Crown of the Kingdom of the Netherlands!

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