Richland woman excited for new king in her native Netherlands

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldApril 30, 2013 

Aggie Mowry of Richland traded 200 texts throughout the 12 hours of coverage of the coronation of the Netherlands' new king with a sister who still lives in the European country.

She also faithfully wore an orange shirt Tuesday night in honor of the ruling House of Orange-Nassau. She traded her night shift as a registered nurse at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland so she could watch the event live on a YouTube channel her husband found.

"It was super fun to watch," said the woman born Agnes Lammerts van Bueren.

A dual U.S. and Dutch citizen, Mowry said she's never thought the U.S. should have a monarchy, as "it's such a vastly different country with a vastly different history."

But she said the Dutch royal family is an important link to her heritage and connects the residents of the country of roughly 17 million.

"We're a monarchy and we're proud of it," she said.

At 46, King Willem-Alexander is the youngest monarch in Europe and the first Dutch king in 123 years since Willem III died in 1890. The new king takes over from his mother, Queen Beatrix, who abdicated the throne in favor of her son. Her mother and grandmother had also abdicated so their children could have the crown.

Mowry spent the first 21 years of her life in the Netherlands. The royal family was a big part of her life.

"As a child, I had memorized all the princes' birthdays and you had royal magazines with their pictures," she said. "I would love to flip through them."

Mowry trained to become a nurse and left her homeland for India on a medical mission. She ended up in the U.S., originally planning to stay for a year for further training, but met her husband and stayed.

That hasn't diminished her love for her home country, though. She goes back regularly to visit her brothers and sisters, though there was a gap for a few years after her father died.

"I was really tempted to go back when (Beatrix's abdication) was announced in January," she said.

But she said she still had a great time watching the entire event, from Beatrix signing her declaration of abdication to the concerts and celebrations that followed Willem-Alexander's crowning.

The Dutch monarch is largely a figurehead and does not wield much political power.

Mowry said the Netherlands having a royal family, generally seen as a conservative form of government, seems almost contradictory given the country's politically liberal leanings. However, they serve an important role.

"He personifies the bind they have as a country," she said of Willem-Alexander.

The new king is taking the throne at a time his country is facing economic uncertainty and social strains such as immigration.

"I am taking the job at a time when many in the kingdom feel vulnerable and uncertain," Willem-Alexander said. "Vulnerable in their work or health. Uncertain about their income or home environment."

Although the Dutch monarchy is largely ceremonial, he immediately staked out a course to preserve its relevance in the 21st century.

"I want to establish ties, make connections and exemplify what unites us, the Dutch people," he said at a nationally televised investiture ceremony in Amsterdam's 600-year-old New Church, held before the combined houses of Dutch parliament.

Mowry said she's looking forward to seeing the new king's face on the country's coins when she returns for a visit in December.

w The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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