Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queen's Day Car Crash Raises Many Questions, Offers Few Answers

Today's Koninginnedag (or Queen's Day) celebrations in Holland were marred by an apparent assassination attempt aimed at Queen Beatrix and other members of the Dutch Royal Family; as their open-topped bus drove slowly past adoring crowds near the Het Loo palace in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn a black late-model Suzuki Swift plowed through several barriers and a crowd of revellers, narrowly missing the royal party and crashing into a monument instead. The video above clearly shows Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima standing and expressing shock following the collision; the Crown Prince's brother Prince Johan-Friso is also seen looking crestfallen.

Police acted swiftly and apprehended the assailant, a 38 year-old Dutch national named Karst Tates who was said to be a security guard distraught over losing his job and facing eviction; precisely how he hoped to remedy his situation by committing such a heinous act remains between him and his conscience. All told five people died and twelve were injured in the attack; in addition to murder and attempted murder charges, Tates is being charged under Article 108, a little-used statute meant to punish those targeting the Dutch royals. Tates is not known to Dutch police, and there's no indication his action was connected to any terrorist group.

Remaining Koninginnedag celebrations were cancelled, depriving the Dutch of their annual display of togetherness; Her Majesty addressed the nation via videotape later in the day, expressing shock at the attack and condolence for the victims and their families.

On this formerly joyous occasion turned sombre by a crime which nevertheless could have been much worse, the Pop Culture Institute can only offer the heartfelt wish: Leef lang de Koningin...

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