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• zondag 2 april 2023

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DH | Warm welcome for royals, get taste of culture, talent

PHILIPSBURG–Smiles, laughter, waving of flags and balloons, and blowing of kisses along with curious glimpses from scores of onlookers were among the scenes around the country on Monday as members of the royal family visited a number of locations on the first day of their two-day visit to St. Maarten.

The first day began with visits to several locations and culminated with a colourful and talent-overloaded concert on Boardwalk Boulevard. Scores of people turned out to the concert where the country’s talented youths and artistes treated the royals to a sample of the country’s culture and flair.

On their arrival at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess of Orange Catharina-Amalia were greeted by a delegation that included Governor Ajamu Baly and his wife, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and PJIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo. The royal party was accompanied on the visit by State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra Van Huffelen.

Their first stop was a tour of PJIA, which is currently under reconstruction. The royals toured the reconstruction site and were briefed on the project by Mingo and other PJIA officials. Baly and Van Huffelen accompanied them on the tour.

Pupils from several schools lined different sections of the streets to scream, wave and get a glimpse of the royals as they left the airport en route to their next stop, the Fire and Ambulance Department in Cay Hill.

At that location rescue and relief officials performed a drill that included a severe accident scene and how this is usually attended to. Princess Catharina-Amalia assisted during several aspects of the drill and the royal couple participated in other aspects.

They then visited St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) where they were briefed by an SMMC team and toured sections of the facility (see related stories).

The royal couple and the Princess of Orange then visited National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) where they were treated to lunch prepared by the talented hands of NIPA students. The Council of Ministers also attended the lunch.

In the mid-afternoon, the royals enjoyed the “Color Me SXM” murals route in Philipsburg. The murals aim to improve liveability in Philipsburg now that many properties are still vacant or damaged after Hurricane Irma in 2017. The princess participated in the project.

The royals ended the day by attending a concert on Boardwalk Boulevard which depicted the talent in the country. The event was open to the public and attracted scores of onlookers. Performances included singing, a range of dancing, youth orchestra performances, drumming and others.

Members of the royal family interacted with the public, greeted and snapped pictures with people.

Their trip will continue today, Tuesday, with a visit to Fort Amsterdam in the morning, where they will go on a birding expedition in search of the country’s national bird, the brown pelican. They will also learn about the history of the fort.

They will then meet with Members of Parliament and the Youth Parliament of St. Maarten. A visit is also planned to White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF), where they will visit the day-care for elderly and disabled people. Afterwards, the party will go to a science fair where elementary and high school students will present their solutions to the island’s plastic waste problem.

In the afternoon, the King, Queen and Princess of Orange will visit Resources for Community Resilience R4CR which, with funds from a World Bank trust fund, is funding projects aimed at rebuilding St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma. The party will interact with civil society representatives about their projects and with young people about their work with various organisations.

Next, the royal couple and the Princess of Orange will visit a school garden project where they speak with schoolchildren about the work in the garden and the importance of gardening for their mental health. At Emilio Wilson Park, schoolchildren will talk about their dreams for the future of St. Maarten and plant yellow sage in the presence of the company.

Following this, the king, queen and Princess of Orange will visit St. Peters Hill where they will receive explanations about nature conservation in St. Maarten. This mountain peak borders the French part of the island.

The afternoon will conclude with their attendance at a youth baseball tournament.

In the evening, the company will visit a reception hosted by the governor and meet with residents.

Bron: Daily Herald

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