King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands forced to ‘abort’ Greek vacation

Royal getaway lasted 1 day after the vacation became public

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands will think twice before embarking on vacation during a pandemic.

The 53-year-old Dutch monarch and his wife, Queen Maxima, were forced to return from their holiday villa in Greece after being out of the country for one day.

The trip caused an uproar in the Netherlands. News of the trip came three days after the Dutch government advised locals to spend fall vacations at home to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The vacation started on Friday and ended immediately on Saturday after the public became aware of the royal getaway.

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“We will abort our vacation,” a statement posted on behalf of Willem-Alexander and Maxima, 49, said Friday.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. The 53-year-old Dutch monarch and his wife were forced to return from their holiday villa in Greece after being out of the country for one day.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. The 53-year-old Dutch monarch and his wife were forced to return from their holiday villa in Greece after being out of the country for one day. (Getty)

“We see people’s reactions to media reports,” the statement continued. “And they are intense, and they affect us. We do not want to leave any doubts about it: to get the COVID-19 virus under control, it is necessary to follow the guidelines. The discussion about our holiday does not contribute to that.”

The royal couple was jetting off to Greece with their daughters Princess Catharina-Amalia, 16, Princess Alexia, 15, and Princess Ariane, 13, People magazine reported. The teens recently returned to school.

The outlet noted that the royal family’s decision to fly out of the country has deeply embarrassed Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. As head of the Dutch government, the 53-year-old is “responsible for assessing whether the royal’s family private trips abroad are in the public interest.”

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Rutte was aware of the trip but claimed in a letter to parliament that he “realized too late” that the holiday “could no longer be reconciled with the increasing infections and the stricter measures,” according to the BBC reported.

“This should have prompted me to reconsider the intended holiday,” he admitted. “I bear full ministerial responsibility.”

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands pictured here in September 2020. The pair's recent trip caused an uproar in the Netherlands as it came three days after the Dutch government advised locals to spend their fall vacations at home to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands pictured here in September 2020. The pair's recent trip caused an uproar in the Netherlands as it came three days after the Dutch government advised locals to spend their fall vacations at home to contain the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time the royal couple has faced backlash for a trip to Greece during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In August, the couple issued an apology on Twitter after a photo emerged of them ignoring social distancing rules. In the controversial snap, the pair was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a restaurant owner on the Greek island of Milos.

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“A photo appeared in the media in which we don’t keep enough distance,” they tweeted at the time. “In the spontaneity of the moment, we did not pay enough attention to that. Of course, we should have. Because compliance with corona rules is also essential on vacations to get the virus under control.”

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the Netherlands has more than doubled during the past two weeks, to 42 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Dutch bars and restaurants were closed as of Wednesday as part of a partial lockdown that will last at least four weeks to counter the sustained surge in coronavirus cases across the Netherlands.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and Queen Maxima pictured here on October 13, 2020, in The Hague, Netherlands. Their vacation started on Friday and ended immediately on Saturday after the public became aware of the royal getaway.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and Queen Maxima pictured here on October 13, 2020, in The Hague, Netherlands. Their vacation started on Friday and ended immediately on Saturday after the public became aware of the royal getaway. (Patrick van Katwijk/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Rutte said that the nation needed to move a step closer to a full lockdown because otherwise, hospitals would become so overburdened that people with other urgent needs would be unable to get treatment.

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“We have to be tougher on ourselves,” Rutte said in an address to the nation. A royal vacation during the partial lockdown countered such advice.

“The vacation shows the wide gap between the king and society,” headlined the public broadcaster NOS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.