Did anyone else catch the abdication of the Dutch Queen Beatrix on Tuesday and the coronation of her eldest son, Willem Alexander, as the Netherlands' first king in 120 years?
Sadly I had to work on Tuesday, so I only caught the highlights on German TV that evening, but I was riveted.
Why the fascination?
Back in my childhood my Omi (my German grandmother) used to get the Neue Post gossip rag (this was back in the days before Amazon and the internet, and the magazines used to reach us months after they were out of date), and she and I used to pore over the pictures of Europe's young royals. To this day, when I follow the goings-on of the European royals I feel connected to my Omi and the unspoilt innocence of that time.
I always felt more of a connection to the European royals than the British, probably because so many of them had children roughly my age (born in the late 60s and through the 70s). Those same children married roughly when I did, and now have young children...as I do.
So Tuesday's coronation of the first of what I consider 'my' generation was already something special. Add in the fact that my imminent release, Waking up in Vegas, features a very similar coronation, and I'm sure you can see why I was so fascinated.
Admittedly, this real life coronation was a much happier family affair than my hero Max's ... but you'll have to read Waking up in Vegas when it releases next week to find out why his day is not the happy event it should be.
Aside from how genuinely warm and likeable the Dutch royals seem, the moment that captured my heart was the moment Queen Beatrix signed her abdication document and passed it to her son. The look she gave him as she handed him the papers wasn't the look a queen gives her successor. It was the look of a proud mother saying to her son "I believe in you. I'm proud of you. You can do this."
This is the way all coronations should be. No grief, no tears for the departed, just a simple handing on of the baton with everyone working together for the good of a nation. And the emphasis firmly placed on the future rather than the past. A lesson my own homeland seriously needs to learn.
Oh, and my heroine, Phoenix, gets to take a walk along a canal much like this one, though sans coronation finery: