It is called the Day of Princes and it marks what can be best called the State of the Union of the Netherlands. The Dutch monarch rides with horses and golden carriage to the parliament to deliver the speech of the year, every third Tuesday of September, cheered by tens of thousands along the way.
The royal trail blazing is currently done by king Willem-Alexander, but until 2013 it was his mum who stole the show. So, it was Queen Beatrix the people were all waiting for on that sunny day in the mid-1990s. Photography was still very much an analogue thing, so armed with my first SLR and Ilford black-and-white 35-mm films I travelled to The Hague, to catch what happens on the sidelines of the September royal parade.
Far away from the glamour I found myself a day later in the dark room of my journalism school. Inhaling toxic fumes, spending hours in low-light conditions, doing handicraft. Moments caught by me suddenly re-appeared from nowhere, on a blank sheet of photo paper I just briefly flashed upon with a bright light and which I subsequently put into a bath of chemical fluids.
Scanning 1996 into the digital age, I realise that some of the people survive in pictures only, and in the memories of their loved ones. The cheering kids in one my images may even catch their own children every day without ever having to wait longer than a split second for that moment to reappear, snapping away with their mobile phones.
The craft of analogue photography might never again be part of any Day of Princes, but it certainly still gives a feeling of royal magic to me. |