Described by his former landlord as a "nice quiet fellow", Karst Tates was an unemployed former forklift driver and security guard from Huissen, near Arnhem in the Netherlands. On Thursday 30th April 2009 he drove to Apeldoorn, where a crowd had gathered to view the traditional royal procession, it being Queen's Day, a Dutch national holiday. He then deliberately drove his "souped up" black Suzuki Swift car at speed through police barriers and a crowd of spectators and drove head on into the De Naald stone monument. There were seventeen casualties. Four were dead at the scene, three died later of their injuries, the others survived, although one was said to be in a critical condition

Before he was removed from the wreckage of his vehicle it was said that Tates admitted to police that his intention was to ram the open top bus carrying Queen Beatrix and other members of the Dutch royal family; a claim that they found all too believable when they found a map detailing the parade route in the car. However it appeared that he became so badly injured during the collision with spectators that he lost control of the vehicle and so missed his target, hitting the monument rather than the bus. Unfortunately his injuries proved fatal, and he later died in a Deventer hospital at 2.58 am on the following morning; which was doubly unfortunate as it meant that no one would ever know exactly why Karst Tates had decided to launch an attack on the Dutch royal family.

Karst Tates had no criminal record, no previous history of mental illness. A subsequent search of his apartment revealed no explosives or weapons, or anything that appeared to indicate that he had any political affiliations whatsoever. It was noted that he had been made redundant a few months previously and could therefore no longer afford the rent on his flat, and had already arranged to quit the property on the 1st May. According to his neighbours he was a "neat, polite and rather reserved man" who had taken to shaving his hair and was said to be sporting a "Mohican like look", remarks which naturally led to speculation that this was in emulation of Travis Bickle, the "homicidal anti-hero" of the film Taxi Driver, as played by Robert de Niro. Members of Tates's family said that he had become depressed, but there were otherwise no clues as to what motivated him to launch his car borne assault.

All this was a profound shock to the Dutch themselves, who had previously prided themselves on their relaxed attitude to state ceremonies and the suchlike. As NRC Handelsblad put it, to "freely mingle with the people was the very essence of Queen's Day and the hallmark of the Dutch royal family", whilst Trouw explained that the nation had "always been proud of having a royal family without too much pomp" and that "Queen's Day was always the party where the people and the royals could meet each other without restraint". Now the Dutch were left to ask themselves the "painful question of whether that will ever be possible again". Or as De Volkskrant put it, a "national illusion died in Apeldoorn".


  • Perro de Jong, Deadly attack on Queen’s Day, Radio Netherlands, 30-04-2009
  • Many wounded and an eery quiet, NRC Handelsblad, 30 April 2009
  • Queen's Day attack death toll rises, 01 May 2009 18:07 UTC
  • Will Queen's Day ever be the same again?, NRC Handelsblad, 1 May 2009
  • John Lichfield , Mystery of 'nice fellow' who killed 6 at royal parade, The Independent, 2 May 2009
  • David Charter, Karst Tates, driver who attacked Dutch royals, was 'in despair' over recession, The Times, May 2, 2009
  • Bruno Waterfield, Man who attacked Dutch royals shaved his hair like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Daily Telegraph, 02 May 2009

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