200 years ago King William I commissioned the construction of a royal vessel. In those times, richly decorated rowing sloops were a ‘must have’ for European monarchs. Being a maritime nation par excellence, a royal rowing barge was also a perfect match for the Netherlands.
What is there to see?
Besides the wonderful Royal Barge, there is a presentation on the Royal Barge and the boathouse. Discover all fine finishing of the golden barge and learn that this ship was only intended for real royals.
For whom is this exhibition?
This exhibition is for all lovers of the Royal House and of maritime matters.
Where in the museum is the exhibition?
You can visit the exhibition on the quay of the Northern wing of the National Maritime Museum.
The Royal Chaloupe
The Royal Chaloupe, or Royal Barge, can be compared to the golden coach, but in the water. The ship was designed for King William I by Cornelis Jan Glavimans and was built between 1816 and 1818 on the Navy shipyard in Rotterdam. King William I never used it himself. It was up to King William II to use it for the first time during his inauguration in 1841. By now, the Royal Barge has been used some thirty times for state visits and other official occasions. Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard used the Royal Barge for the last time during the celebration of their silver wedding anniversary in 1962.
The elegant details of the Royal Barge
With a length of seventeen metres, the Royal Barge is not only long, but also very slender and richly decorated with gold-leaf ornaments. Neptune and his three sea horses decorate the bow. Neptune is of course the symbol for the greatness of the head of state, but also of a safe voyage. The barge is decorated with numerous other, smaller ornaments such as crabs and water plants. These ornaments all have their own stories. The Royal Barge is really a feast for the eye, but its symbolism makes it an interesting object as well.
Rower on board of the Royal Barge
You did not become a rower of the Royal Barge just like that. The carefully selected midshipmen of the Navy were drilled to make the barge move as majestically as possible through the waters. Rowing the barge is done according to fixed protocols. Sticking your oars squarely into the water to slow down the boat was not done. The strokes required to reach the destination were carefully counted and the barge had to float gently until it was halted by the quay. Also, the rowers of the barge were not permitted to look at the King or Queen or the guests. You had to look at your oar, and your oar only.
Maintenance of the Royal Barge
The Royal Barge is as old as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so it is no surprise that a thorough overhaul is needed to keep the barge in good condition. In 2014 Neptune was checked thoroughly. With X-rays subcutaneous research was carried out to the condition of the ornament. During this research cracks were detected in the back of the ornament. The rump of the barge also needed an overhaul. After meticulous renovation the Royal Barge is now officially ready to sail again and is lying in the boathouse on the quay of the Maritime Museum. Who knows, our current King might order to sail this beautiful barge again!
The Royal Barge can be visited daily in the boathouse.