Dutch Queen Beatrix announces abdication

Updated: 2013-01-29 04:15


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THE HAGUE - Dutch Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in favor of her eldest son Prince Willem-Alexander in an address to the nation on Monday evening.

"I have the greatest confidence to hand over the throne to my son, the Prince of Orange," she said.

"He and Princess Maxima are prepared for their tasks. With all their talents, they will choose their own approach. I hope to meet you very often and I am grateful for the confidence and the many years that I have been the Queen," she said.

The resignation from the throne will take place on April 30 this year.

"On Thursday, I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am grateful that I can do this in good health. At the end of this year, our Kingdom will last two hundred years. These two things made me decide to step aside from the throne," said the outgoing Queen.

In response to the announcement, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, "I admire the extraordinary commitment of the Queen for more than thirty years."

"Since her inauguration in 1980, she has served Dutch society with heart and soul. On behalf of myself and the cabinet, I would like to express my gratitude," he said.

"She is a queen who stands in the heart of society," Rutte added. "She has always been there, in good times with sports highlights for example, but also and especially during the difficult moments as in the Bijlmer (airplane crash 1992), Enschede (fireworks disaster 2000) and during Queen's Day 2009 (assault on Royal Family). She touched people and became an icon of the Netherlands."

Rutte also expressed his confidence in her successor Willem-Alexander.

"He faces a demanding task," Rutte said. "The monarchy should represent and bind people abroad, he once said. I believe that the new King and Queen will fulfill this tradition in a convincing way."

Diederik Samsom, leader of the Labor Party, reacted in the same way.

"We appreciate the way in which Queen Beatrix has fulfilled her arduous task as head of state," he said. "She has manifested herself as a committed queen. Also we appreciate her binding role in Dutch society."

Beatrix is the eldest daughter of late Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. In 1966, Beatrix married Prince Claus van Amsberg from Germany, with whom she has three children: Prince Willem-Alexander (1967), Prince Friso (1968) and Prince Constantijn (1969).

Beatrix's marriage caused a massive protest in Amsterdam, because her German husband was associated by a part of the Dutch population with German Nazism. Beatrix's husband died in 2002.

Beatrix was crowned Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on April 30, 1980, as successor of her mother Juliana.

During the investiture, some people used the occasion to protest against poor housing conditions in the country and against the monarchy in general. The rioters clashed violently with the police.

On April 30, 2009, a Dutch man driving a car deliberately rammed into a crowd watching a royal parade in Apeldoorn, where the royal family were celebrating the Queen's Day with the public. The car missed the royal coach by 15 meters but five people were killed and 12 others were injured.

The traditional Dutch Queen's Day will not longer be celebrated on April 30, the birthday of Juliana. Instead, from 2014 on, the King's Day will be celebrated on April 27, the birthday of Willem-Alexander, said the Government Information Service (RVD).

Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche in Lech, Austria, while skiing in February 2012 and has been in a coma since then. He is currently treated in a hospital in London.