Dutch citizens in UK living under Brexit shadow of uncertainty, says king


The King of the Netherlands has urged the UK Government to lift the “shadow of uncertainty” hanging over Dutch nationals living in Britain after Brexit.

Willem-Alexander said “it truly saddens us” to see Britain leave the European Union, but respected the decision, in an address to Parliament during his state visit.

To an audience that included Prime Minister Theresa May in the front row, he said that 100,000 Dutch citizens in Britain and the 50,000 Britons living in the Netherlands deserved “special attention” during negotiations.

Speaking in the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, he said: “Many of them have lived and worked here for many years.

“They feel at home in their local community and their contribution to society is valued, whether as employees, colleagues, neighbours or volunteers.

“Every day they prove how good the match is between the British and the Dutch.

“Yet all these individuals now live under the shadow of uncertainty about their future status.

“I understand how difficult this is for them and I trust this uncertainty will be resolved.”

The rights of the estimated 3.5 million EU nationals in Britain post Brexit and the reciprocal rights for Britons living on the continent are one of the areas under the spotlight in the Brexit negotiations.

A no-deal Brexit would potentially leave a huge question mark over the rights of citizens on either side.

Willem-Alexander, 51, spoke in the Royal Gallery in Westminster with his wife, Queen Maxima, 47, by his side.

2018 marks the 330th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, which saw the Dutch William of Orange depose James II to become King William III, alongside his English wife Mary II.

As well as the Prime Minister, the audience included MPs and Lords from all sides of the house.

Willem-Alexander spoke of the strong links between the UK and his nation, telling the politicians and diplomats that “Brexit does not mean farewell” and our close relationship would continue “albeit on a different footing”.

He spoke in defence of the European Union, saying Britain’s membership of it had brought an “extra dimension” to the two countries’ relationship.

He said: “Banding together within the EU has brought many benefits. Yes, the union has its flaws, but we should not close our eyes to its achievements.

“Unlike former generations, most people in Britain and the Netherlands today grew up in a peaceful Europe where prosperity and freedom steadily gained ground.”

The King also referenced the two years he spent as a student at the United World College of the Atlantic in South Wales in the early 1980s in a more personal note.

He said: “The memory of that time – and of all of my friends from those days – is very dear to me.

“This personal experience created a bond for life with this wonderful country.”