On Open Monument’s Day I had the unplanned opportunity to take a peek inside Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague, the political capital of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. The palace is the home of the Council of State or Raad van State.
Most major Dutch institutions are located in the centre of The Hague. The parliamentary and executive complex Binnenhof, King Willem-Alexander‘s office Noordeinde Palace and the Kneuterdijk Palace are all within walking distance of each other.
Paleis Kneuterdijk is a former royal palace built in 1716 in the Louis XIV style by architect Daniel Marot, it was commissioned by Count Johan Hendrik of Wassenaer-Obdam.
The palace served as a residence for King William II and his wife Queen Anna Paulowna in the first half of the 19th century, when he was still the crown prince. William II added several buildings designed in the English Tudor style, of which only the so-called ‘Gothic Hall‘ has survived. The hall was designed after the great dining hall of Christ Church, Oxford of which William II was an alumnus.
Their grandson and heir to the throne William, Prince of Orange used the palace from 1858 till his death in 1879. In the 1930s the place was occasionally used by Princess Juliana.
After World War II Dutch war criminals were tried in the former ballroom, some of whom were sentenced to death. Then the Ministry of Finance used the building for many years. Since restoration work was completed in 2001 the palace has been in use by the Council of State.
The Council of State
The Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body to the government and States General (parliament) that officially consists of members of the royal family and Crown-appointed members generally having political, commercial, diplomatic or military experience.
It was founded in 1531, making it one of the world’s oldest still-functioning state organisations.
The Council of State must be consulted by the cabinet on proposed legislation before a law is submitted to parliament.
The Council of State Administrative Law division also serves as one of the four highest courts of appeal in administrative matters.
The King is president of the Council of State but he seldom chairs meetings. The Vice-President of the Council of State chairs meetings in his absence and is the de facto major personality of the institution. Under Dutch constitutional law, the Vice-President of the Council is acting head of state when there is no monarch such as if the royal family were to become extinct.
On Open Monuments’ Day the public got to see the actual council room (with a larger seat for the chair), but also the ballroom and the Gothic Hall. In the Gothic Hall there was classical music.