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Netherlands Santa ceremony causes controversy

Saint Nicholas was welcomed by thousands as he arrived in the Netherlands this weekend, beginning the traditional run-up to Christmas there.

But there was controversy over his choice of companion. Instead of elves, Holland has a character called 'Black Pete' - a white man with a blacked face and curly wig.

Many believe there are racist overtones, and the event should be abolished.

Our Europe Correspondent Emma Murphy reports from Amsterdam.

Eurostar to run direct trains from London to Amsterdam

Eurostar is set to run direct train services between London and Amsterdam. Credit: PA Archive

Eurostar has reached an agreement to run direct train services between London and Amsterdam, the company announced.

Launching in December 2016, the journeys will take around four hours each way and will run twice a day, stopping at Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal, Eurostar said.

“We have long been ambitious for expansion to new destinations so today’s announcement marks a major advance in our growth plans," said Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic.

"With over 3 million passengers travelling by air between London and Amsterdam, this is one of Europe’s most popular routes."

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Amsterdam prepares for the crowning of a new King

The city of Amsterdam is preparing for the swearing in of a new King today, as Queen Beatrix will officially abdicate from the throne.

Yesterday the Queen thanked the Dutch people in a final address before her abdication and urged them to support her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

Women look at t-shirts portraying Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in Amsterdam Credit: Reuters
A man leaves a shop selling t-shirts of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in Amsterdam Credit: Reuters

Read: Queen passes 'beautiful task' to Prince Willem-Alexander

WW II bomb will be 'transported' before being defused

A notice on Schiphol airport's website says:

"During construction works this morning around the C-pier an airplane bomb from World War II was found. In the coming hours the bomb disposal unit will transport the bomb to an area outside of the airport facility and will attempt to defuse the bomb there.

"For the time being passengers should expect cancellations and delays."

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