The Dutch government paid 461,000 euros ($615,000) to erect a fence around King Willem-Alexander’s seaside villa in southern Greece, RTL News reported on Wednesday, drawing media criticism and demands for an explanation.
The Dutch monarchy remains popular one year after Willem-Alexander ascended the throne after the abdication of his mother Queen Beatrix, but critics say it costs too much, especially at a time when the country is struggling to emerge from recession.
The RTL broadcaster published documents showing a neighbour had received 461,000 euros for allowing the Dutch the right to erect a fence on two strips of land bordering the property. The strips of land had a market value of only about 35,000 euros.
Dutch media jumped on the report, with popular web portals questioning the use of taxpayers’ money. "Dutch state ripped off," read one headline. "Dutch state forks out half a million for fence," said another.
On Wednesday, opposition MP Alexander Pechtold said he would seek clarification about the need to spend so much on a fence.
It is the second time this summer that spending by the Dutch royals has made the headlines. In June, questions were raised in parliament about a 900,000 euro renovation at one of the family palaces.
The House of Oranje, or Orange, was Europe’s most expensive monarchy last year, costing 39.9 million euros.
It declined to confirm the financial details of the fence.
"The Dutch state will have the right to enact any kind of security measures that the state thinks necessary, including the planting of trees, the building of walls and the placing of any other kind of security construction," according to the contract published by RTL.
Willem-Alexander bought the holiday retreat in 2012, the year before he ascended the throne as the Netherlands’ first male head of state in more than a century. [Reuters]