Published On: Sun, Dec 3rd, 2017

Shocked King Willem-Alexander

Royal Couple - King Willem-Alexander & Queen Maxima - Visiting family in shelter at Festival Village 20171202 - HH

~ “People are resilient and they believe in the future” ~

PHILPSBURG – “I am still shocked when I see the island. I have never experienced anything like this before. There is a lot of destruction but the people are resilient and they believe in the future,’ King Willem-Alexander said at the end of Saturday’s royal visit to St. Maarten.

“It is amazing what has been done, said the king who also visited the island shortly after Hurricane Irma struck. “Debris has been cleared and it looks like we’re ready for business. I also take back home the gratitude of the people of St. Maarten for what the Dutch community has done for them. They went the extra mile.”

King Willem-Alexander reflected on the impressions he picked up during his previous visit. “Three months ago the island was a ruin. Now I see how hard people are working, their perseverance and the projects that are being identified that will be supported by money from the Netherlands.”

The king expressed his pleasure about people’s gratitude for the support after the hurricane from the Dutch military, the marines, the engineers and the Marechaussee. “Everybody did much more than they had to do; they really came to help.”

Royal Couple -Drumband in town during lunch 20171202 - HH

The king also painted a rosy picture of the way St. Maarteners look at their situation. “It is wonderful to see how the people here look full of confidence at the future. Of course, there are also people still living in shelters, who are traumatized, but they are fewer compared to after Hurricane Luis.”

“When I came here in September, my biggest fear was that there would be camps with tents and that people would have to live there for months. That did not happen,” the king said. “There are still people in shelters but there will be houses built for them. The perspective on the future is sunny and St. Maarten is ready for it. I am happy that I had the opportunity to witness this together with my wife.”

When Queen Maxima made a brief remark about the need for sustainable solutions, King Willem-Alexander agreed. “we have to look in a different manner at nature. Sustainability is also important for our nature under water. I have heard here how important it is for the economy of St. Maarten to manage nature above and under the water in a sustainable manner.”

Royal Couple - Press covering royal visit at Lagoon

Photos by Hilbert Haar.


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