Skip to main content

Dutch queen prepares to hand throne to son

By Peter Wilkinson, CNN
April 29, 2013 -- Updated 2311 GMT (0711 HKT)
Newly wed Beatrix and Prince Claus in Amsterdam on March 10, 1966. Prince Claus died aged 76 on October 6, 2002 at a hospital in Amsterdam. Newly wed Beatrix and Prince Claus in Amsterdam on March 10, 1966. Prince Claus died aged 76 on October 6, 2002 at a hospital in Amsterdam.
HIDE CAPTION
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
The Dutch royal family in photos
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Queen Beatrix will abdicate Tuesday after 33 years as the Dutch monarch
  • Willem-Alexander will be first king the Dutch have had in more than 120 years
  • The 75-year-old monarch announced her abdication in January
  • New queen's father, a former Argentinian minister, will miss investiture

(CNN) -- A chapter was closing in Dutch history Monday as Queen Beatrix spent her last full day on the throne after 33 years as the country's monarch.

Beatrix will abdicate on Tuesday morning, handing over to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, who will be the first Dutch king in more than 120 years. The queen was due to give a televised speech later on Monday.

She steps down on the national holiday known as Queen's Day, an opportunity for people across the Netherlands to dress up and party. The investiture of the new king will be the high point of a year of celebrations marking the end of the Napoleonic occupation in 1813.

The 75-year-old monarch announced her abdication in January, saying it was time for a new generation to lead. "I have always considered it as an extraordinary privilege to be able to put a big part of my life at the service of our country and in accordance with my task to add substance to my kingship," said Beatrix, who acceded to the throne when her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated in 1980.

City turns orange to celebrate new king
Dutch Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne

"Until today, this beautiful task has given me a lot of satisfaction. It is inspiring to feel close to people, to sympathize in grievances and share times of joy and national pride."

She went on: "It is with great confidence, that on April 30 this year I will pass my kingship to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Maxima are fully prepared for their future task. They will serve our country with devotion, faithfully serve the constitution, and with all their talents give substance to their kingship."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte added: "Anyone who has met the queen will agree that she touched people and helped them forward with her knowledge and experience and her great interest and involvement."

The Dutch media has speculated that the queen was abdicating to spend more time with her second son Friso, who was injured in an avalanche at an Austrian ski resort last year. He remains in a coma in a London hospital.

Prince Willem-Alexander was educated in Wales and Holland, where he earned a history degree at Leiden University. He served in the Dutch Royal Navy from 1985 to 1987. As Prince of Orange -- the title given to the person first in line to the Dutch throne -- he has been interested in sustainability and innovation.

He is married to Princess Máxima, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a degree in economics and has worked for HSBC and Deutsche Bank. The couple have been married for 11 years and have three daughters.

Last week the couple gave their first joint TV interview in which Willem set out how he intended to rule. "I want to be a king who is first of all traditional, built on the tradition of my predecessors, who stands for continuity and also for stability in the country ... but also a king who in the 21st century can bind together and represent society as a whole."

Asked how he intended to do that, Willem told the NOS state broadcaster: "By being present where you think people need support or help, by giving extra attention and presence to worthwhile events and by supporting people who are in need."

One notable absence at Tuesday's ceremony will be the new queen's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, who was a minister during the 1976-1983 Argentinian military dictatorship.

Princess Maxima said her family would not attend her swearing-in as queen because of her father's controversial past.

"This is a constitutional event, when my husband becomes king and my father doesn't belong there, especially if there are issues," the princess told NOS. "He remains my father, we still enjoy our private moments."

Mark Saunders, a royal biographer, said he had bumped into the new king and found him to be personable and relaxed. "I met him in the strangest of circumstances," he said. "I was on a ferry stuck between Estonia and Norway. I spoke to this young pleasant guy who gave me some advice that maybe you should get off (the boat). It was only afterwards that I discovered it was Crown Prince Willem. I remember thinking that this was the most 'non-royal' royal I've ever met. I haven't met that many, but he was a pleasant guy.

"He's young too, only 46 -- so he's the youngest monarch in the world -- the only one who's not gray or bald!"

Saunders said he believed that in contrast to Beatrix, Britain's Queen Elizabeth would never abdicate, because of the 1,000 years of history behind her, and the trauma of her uncle, King Edward VIII's abdication. "(Britain's royals) believe they have a divine right to rule, which goes back to the Norman Conquest of 1066. They will never break that chain," he said.

READ MORE: Why Elizabeth isn't abdicating

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0927 GMT (1727 HKT)
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0142 GMT (0942 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT