I’ve taken photographs of Birkenhead Town Hall before in a few articles on this blog. But as I walked past on Thursday 27th April I noticed that rather than the union jack flying overhead there was the national flag of the Netherlands flying.
Well the 27 April is the Netherland’s national day; it is the King’s official birthday and is known as King’s Day or ‘Koningsdag’. In the Netherlands it is celebrated with parties, street markets, concerts and special events to celebrate the royal family. Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods and King’s Day themed products in many city and town centres. The day features official musical performances and many people spontaneously sing “Het Wilhelmus”. This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people. Each year, the royal family visits some of the venues and they are entertained with displays and performances around local historic events. Royal family members generally join in with the games in a good natured way and greet the thousands of people who turn out to see them.
Well there was none of that in Birkenhead but a number of civic dignitaries and Dutch nationals currently residing in the Merseyside area held a civic reception along with the Mayor of Wirral Councillor Pat Hackett in Birkenhead Town Hall.
Interestingly in October 2016 the Council adopted a protocol for flying flags at Wirral Town Halls which will be overseen by the Council’s ‘Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee’. Whilst the rules are in the main about flying the union jack or the Wirral Council flag it seems unclear to me as to when the flag of other nations can be flown at the town halls in Wirral. It’s an interesting aside to the usual civic protocols.