Queen Maxima of the Netherlands couldn’t contain her tears as the country welcomed the tragic victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash on Wednesday.
The doomed MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17 when it was shot down with a surface-to-air missile. It went down near Hrabove in Ukraine, just a few kilometres from the Ukraine-Russia border.
193 of the passengers and crew members were Dutch. None of them survived.
Wednesday was declared as a national day of mourning for the country as grieving citizens paid respect to the victims at the Eindhoven Airport, where only 40 of the 298 passengers arrived from Ukraine.
Queen Maxima, along with her husband King Willem-Alexander and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, joined the grieving relatives of the victims.
She was seen weeping throughout the reception ceremony while holding her husband’s hand tightly.
“The grief, powerlessness and despair of those left behind have touched us to the very soul,” the king said.
“But in deepest distress come strength, compassion and inter-connectedness, and those are the qualities that our country always displays at times such as this.”
The bodies, which have not been identified yet, were received with great dignity. They were placed in wooden coffins, which were carried by soldiers to 40 black hearses. The bodies were then taken to the town of Hilversum, where they will be formally identified.
The flags of all 17 nationalities onboard MH17 were standing at half-mast at the airport.
Muffled cries were heard from the people lining up at the side of the roads where the convoy of hearses passed. At the airport, though, the cries were louder.
Barry Sweeney, whose 28-year-old son Liam Sweeney was among the British passengers of the plane, describe Netherland’s ceremony “moving.”
“The Dutch were tremendous in the way they handled everything,” he told the Mirror.
“The Netherlands Air Force were so professional. They brought the victims home with dignity and integrity, not like the rag-tag bunch of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.”