Dutch king and queen get a red-carpet welcome in Georgia, and a chance to show off their dance moves

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The king and queen of the Netherlands on Tuesday received a red-carpet welcome from Savannah's mayor, chatted with crane operators on the dock of one of America's busiest seaports and danced onstage with students from Georgia's oldest historically Black college.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima spent the second day of their U.S. tour in Georgia's founding city, a tourism magnet for its wealth of historic architecture and a growing powerhouse in global trade.

The Dutch royals stepped from their motorcade Tuesday morning and onto a red carpet that had been rolled across the sidewalk outside Savannah's gold-domed City Hall, where Mayor Van Johnson greeted them.

“We are so honored today to have his majesty the king and her majesty the queen here in our beautiful city,” Johnson said to kick off a roundtable discussion between city staff and Dutch dignitaries. “Today is a day for us that creates and speaks of opportunities — opportunities that we can explore and opportunities that we can expand.”

The Dutch royals' trip to Georgia has featured a mixture of stops at cultural sites and meetings focused on strengthening economic ties.

In Savannah, the king and queen took a stroll beneath majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the prized historic district of the city founded by British colonists in 1733. At Savannah State University, Georgia's oldest historically Black public college, the royal couple climbed onstage with students and danced during a marching band performance.

Afterward, they toured the Port of Savannah, the fourth-busiest U.S. seaport for cargo shipped in containers. The giant metal boxes are used to transport goods ranging from consumer electronics to frozen chickens. Savannah handled 4.9 million container units in 2023, more than any U.S. port other than New York, Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

The king and queen chatted with crane operators on the dock as containers were being loaded onto a mammoth cargo ship behind them. Then they sat in a shaded tent for a recap of discussions held earlier in the day between Georgia and Dutch representatives on ways to make seaports more efficient and environmentally sustainable.

Total trade between Georgia and the Netherlands was $2.9 billion last year, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Georgia sent $1.8 billion in exports, including medical instruments and automatic data processing machines, to the Netherlands in 2023. The state imported $1.2 billion in goods from the Netherlands, including aircraft parts and malt beer.

The Dutch royals' four-day U.S. trip began Monday in Atlanta, where the king and queen met with Gov. Brian Kemp at Georgia's state Capitol, toured the burial site of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and visited a recording studio in a city known for hip-hop artists.

The king and queen were scheduled to spend Wednesday and Thursday in New York to wrap up their U.S. tour.

06/11/2024 21:51 -0400

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