A cop every few feet. Bodyguards with safety screens. Security along the King’s Day route in Rotterdam was intensive, and visitors and television viewers noticed.
The security was “visible and invisible”, according to Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. Whether it was also more than on other King’s Days? “I didn’t notice anything. The Majesty was not bothered, and neither was I, it was free movement,” he said tonight in the NPO Radio 1 program Nieuws en Co.
The police do not want to say anything about the numbers of police officers, boas and other security officers deployed. According to Ton Heesen, general commander of the Large-scale and Special Operations Staff on behalf of the police, there has not been “upscaled” for this King’s Day. “The concept is no different. The numbers may vary because the location is different.”
By this he refers to the extensive route, from South Rotterdam across the water to the north. “We do not have an old city center where everything can take place. It is an elongated ribbon of activities through the city that you have to secure.” For example, today there was a police officer every 10 to 15 meters along the route of the royal family. The agents came from Rotterdam and from other parts of the country.
‘Don’t be afraid to shake hands’
Despite that hedge of security, according to the mayor, there was sufficient contact between the public and the Oranjes. “In the beginning you saw that the royal family kept some distance from the visitors. In some places a lot of physical distance was also built in,” says Royal House reporter Albert Bos.
But soon there was contact as it should be on King’s Day. “It’s not that there was fear of speaking to the public, shaking hands and accepting presents,” says Aboutaleb.
Whether special security measures were taken because of the threat to Princess Amalia or because of the unrest in the city – there have been several explosions in Rotterdam in recent days – the police say nothing concrete. “We always have to prepare for the unexpected,” says Heesen. “The current situation does not in itself provide other security measures.”
4 million euros
Still, the price tag for the festivities is striking. It is estimated that the costs were 4 million euros, more than two and a half times as much as last year in Maastricht, a large part of which went to the security operation.
Program director Alice Vlaanderen of the municipality of Rotterdam said earlier in the civil servants and administrators magazine Binnenlands Bestuur that the high costs are mainly due to the size of the city. “Of course safety here costs more than in a medium-sized or small municipality.” The costs were largely met by the municipality of Rotterdam, but other government authorities and the business community also contributed.
There seemed to be no security incidents during the Oranges’ visit. The mayor looks back tonight with satisfaction. “A very successful day. Just as we wished it to be.”
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