After 33 years, Dutch queen to step down in favour of her son

Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands is to abdicate in favour of her son, Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, who will become the first Dutch king since 1890. Two days short of her 75th birthday, the much-loved Queen went on television yesterday to say she was retiring from the throne on April 30 after 33 years.

Prince Willem-Alexander (45), who has shaken off a reputation as a fun-loving, blunt-spoken student prince, was ready for the job, she said. Her birthday and celebrations this year of the bicentenary of the Dutch monarchy made it a good time to hand over to a new generation, she added.

Orange succession: Queen Beatrix with her son Willem-Alexander. Pic/Getty Images

The Queen, who is affectionately known as Bea and Trix, said she had been contemplating retirement for some time. “I am not standing down because the role is too heavy for me, but in the conviction that responsibility for our country should now lie with a new generation,” she said from her home at the Huis ten Bosch palace.

“I am deeply grateful for the great faith you have shown in me in the many years that I could be your Queen.”Prime Minister Mark Rutte followed her on television, paying tribute. “Since her coronation in 1980s she’s applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society,” he said. “She has always done her utmost . . . being visible and with enormous energy. She has grown into a Dutch icon.”

The prime minister voiced confidence in Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima. “They are fully prepared for the task,” he said. “They will serve . . . with devotion.” Prince Willem-Alexander will become the first king to reign in The Netherlands since the death of his great-great grandfather, William III, in 1890.

He will be known as William IV. He is married to Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, a former New York investment banker. The departure of one of Europe’s longest-serving rulers will bring an outpouring of affection for the woman who restored the reputation of the modest, cycle-riding Dutch royal family after a difficult period.Beatrix is the sixth monarch of the House of Orange.      

British queen not likely to follow Dutch example
One European queen has announced her retirement. Any chance Europe's most famous queen — Elizabeth II of Britain — might join her? Not likely, experts say. The spectacle of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepping down at the age of 75 so her 45-year-old son can become king is sparking some speculation in Britain about whether Elizabeth might follow suit so her eldest son, Prince Charles, can start his reign. Elizabeth is 86. Charles, 64, has been heir to the throne since he was three. Queen Elizabeth — who seems to be in excellent health — has said in the past that she regards being queen as a “job for life”.   

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