A foreign stamp of approval

Have you ever seen the Orange Army?

Dutch people fully dressed in orange, supporting their national soccer team, the speed skaters, Max Verstappen or celebrating King’s Day. The orange army is famous for their huge parties to which everyone is invited. If you ever encountered this loud and happy crowd, you may think the Netherlands is a proud nation.

But actually there are only a few occasions where the Dutch display national pride. We’re not keen on hoisting fl ags and singing the national anthem – which everyone agrees is a boring song that weirdlyhonors the Spanish king.

The Dutch are hesitant to express praise for anything they do well. I believe that is partly because our number 1 national sport is to complain. I am always surprised to hear that international research shows that the Dutch are generally very happy. You would not think so if you hear them talk.

We seem to look for international approval before we can appreciate our achievements ourselves. Every time the Dutch soccer team plays well and wins an important match (which does happen occasionally), the Dutch media immediately looks at the international papers. It is as if we are saying: “Look, the Italian media is impressed with our team, so they must be good”. A foreign stamp of approval is apparently needed. 

Then there is our King Willem-Alexander. The fact that Maxima, a smart and glamorous Argentinian woman married him, increased the nation’s appreciation of him. One Dutch newspaper is obsessed with how the international media talks about our Queen. Wherever she goes, the newspaper quotes the local media – who are of course impressed. Our Queen, by being Argentinian and the person she is, gives us that extra boost that we so long for and cannot find within ourselves. So if you want to be nice to a Dutch person (why not?), tell them what you like about this country. You will notice they will act surprised (really?) but you will also see this tiny sparkle of pride in their eyes.


Monique Mols,
Media Relations, ASML

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