By Alita Singh
AIRPORT–King Willem-Alexander stepped out of the Royal Dutch Airline KLM airplane first and waited briefly on the platform for his wife Queen Máxima to disembark after they arrived at SXM Airport Tuesday afternoon.
They arrived aboard a regular Royal Dutch Airline KLM flight instead of the royal jet, from Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport to SXM Airport.
The king and queen descended the airplane steps side-by-side with arms hooked and smiling broadly. The queen took every step carefully in her elegant, travel-smart ballet flats.
The king was dressed in a sharp suit. The queen, noted as the fashionista of the European royals, was in a khaki military-style dress that ended just above her knees. The dress had flaming orange trimming and was paired with a complementing flaming orange and golden handbag and large sunglasses.
On the red carpet at the bottom of the airplane steps, the king and queen were greeted and welcomed to St. Maarten, the first stop on their Dutch Caribbean trip, by Governor Eugene Holiday, his wife Marie-Louise, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and SXM Airport Managing Director Regina Labega.
The royal couple was whisked away from the airport in SXM 1, the official car usually used by the governor, as they waved to airport and other personnel. They also waved to groups of people gathered at various places along the route to their hotel.
SXM 1 bore the king’s Royal Standard of the Netherlands: a square orange flag, divided into four quarters by a Nassau Blue cross. All quarters show a white and blue bugle-horn, taken from the coat of arms of the Principality of Orange. In the centre of the flag is the (small) coat of arms of the Kingdom, which originates from the arms of the House of Nassau, surmounted by a royal crown and surrounded by the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Military William Order.
The royal couple’s arrival yesterday signalled the start of their first visit to the Dutch Caribbean since the inauguration of Willem-Alexander as king and Máxima as queen on the abdication of Queen Beatrix, the king’s mother, in favour of her son.
The official programme of the royals for St. Maarten is throughout today, Wednesday, starting with the official welcome ceremony at Clem Labega Square from 9:00am (see related story).
Dutch Minister for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk is accompanying the royal couple on their Dutch Caribbean tour.
The royals are staying at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and will use the resort as their base as they make official visits to Saba on Thursday and St. Eustatius on Friday. They depart for Bonaire on Saturday morning.
Willem-Alexander and Maxima were last in St. Maarten in 2011, when they accompanied then-queen, now Princess Beatrix on her last visit as monarch before her abdication.