Word of thanks by Mayor Jan van Zanen following the presentation of the Orden de Isabel la Católica civil award, on 14 October 2021



Señora Pilar Tena,

Señor Charles Ojalvo,

Queridos Padres (lieve Ma en Pa),

Querida Simone,

Estimado regidor Klaas Verschuure,

Buenas tardes a todas y todos,


Gracias por tus amables palabras, María.

Este es un momento muy especial;

me siento profundamente conmovido

y muy honrado por recibir esta alta orden civil del Reino de España.

Por ello, quiero agradecer al Gobierno español la concesión de esta condecoración.

El hecho de que se me haya concedido esta Orden de Isabel la Católica

lo considero una confirmación

de los estrechos lazos entre nuestros dos países.

Permítanme ahora continuar en inglés.


Naturally, my thoughts today return to the time when – on both sides – we were busy preparing for the start of the Vuelta in Utrecht.

Both sides. In Spain and in Brabant and Utrecht. Also working with all relevant Spanish partners in the Netherlands. For instance with the Instituto Cervantes. I always felt that the Dutch-Spanish relations could even become stronger by having the Vuelta coming to the Netherlands and combining it with culture, science, food and business.

So we organised a Spanish event with food, music and dance at Dom Square …

I even tried hard to learn some Spanish.

Talking about learning the language I liked to use texts of songs for that.


Dear Charles, thank you for coming over and please say thanks to Javier Guillén for his kind words on the video.


Charles, do you remember?

My visit to Spain in the summer of 2019 still stands out in my mind.

I remember sitting in the back of a car with you as we drove from Alicante to the place at the coast where the teams were presented to the press.

I could not help singing parts of this song …


‘ …Valencia es la tierra de las flores, de la luz y del amor.

Valencia tus mujeres todas tienen de la rosas el color.

Valencia la sentir como perfume en tus huertos el azahar.

Quisiera en la tierra Valenciana mis amores encontrar …’.


Anyway Charles, you liked it more than Simone did.

Sadly, the Vuelta had to be cancelled, for reasons which have already often been mentioned.

Which makes me all the more happy that next year the ‘Gran Salida Official’ of the Vuelta will still take place in Utrecht.

With stages from Den Bosch to Utrecht and in Breda.

In the mean time (mientras tanto) I became Mayor of The Hague … and now I am awarded with this great honor.


Firstly I would like to dedicate this Orden de Isabel Católica to all the people who help organise the Vuelta.

Not just those in Spain, but also everyone involved in the cities of Utrecht, Breda and Den Bosch.

As well as the provinces of Utrecht and Noord-Brabant. Also the voluntary workers.

(Dedico el Condecoration a todas las personas implicadas en la organizacion de la Vuelta y por supuesto a todos los voluntarios)

The Vuelta 2022 will be a joyful reunion, I am sure of that.

Secondly I would also like to dedicate this gracious award to the language and culture of Spain, in general, and the Instituto Cervantes, in particular.

I am therefore very pleased that my good friend Pilar Tena is here today.

Pilar, it is mostly because of you that my love of the Spanish language and culture has grown.

So much so, that I dared to start learning Spanish. Please Pilar send my love and best wishes to my dear teachers

Juan Castuera Echegoyen and Alberto Colorado Garín.



Your Excellency,

Dear guests,


The world is at home in The Hague, the international city of peace and justice.

Something I observed once again this summer, during the Embassy Festival, here on the Lange Voorhout.

The Lange Voorhout is rightly considered to be one of the most beautiful avenues of this country.

But did you know that it’s fame is largely due to none other than Charles the Fifth?

Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain?

In 1536 he visited The Hague on the occasion of the Ninth Chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

It was then that the order was given for four rows of Lime trees to be planted.

Until this day, these Lime trees give the Lange Voorhout its charm.

How appropriate it is then that we too, are gathered here today.

On this afternoon, celebrating the friendship between Spain and the Netherlands.

I end with quoting some lines of a song sung by the, in the Netherlands world famous, singer Imca Marina …

‘ … La gente canta con ardor

“Que viva España”.

La vida tiene otro sabor

Y España es la mejor …

¡Olé! …’.


Thank you.