Dutch Queen Beatrix announced on Monday that she is ending her reign as Queen of Netherlands and passing the crown down to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. She steps down as queen as she approaches her 75th birthday and the 200th anniversary of the monarchy. Here’s what you need to know about the popular queen and the next in line for the throne.
1. Queen Beatrix is Ending Her Reign after 33 Years
Queen Beatrix announced in a televised speech that she is ending her reign after 33 years to the throne. The expected abdication comes as calm descends over the Netherlands after 10 years of turmoil that saw Beatrix act as the glue to a divided country. Beatrix’s mother Queen Juliana abdicated in 1980, as well as her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, in 1948.
2. The Queen Will Step Down from the Throne on April 30
The Queen will officially step down from the throne on April 30. Queen Beatrix, who is the longest-lived reigning monarch of the Netherlands, will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on that day.
3. She Was a Beloved Queen
Queen Beatrix was perceived as cold and distant at the start of her reign in a country that was used to the grandmotherly reign of Queen Juliana, but over time, the country got used to Beatrix’s rule and grew to love her. Prime Minister Mark Rutte honored Queen Beatrix during the televised announcement.
“The queen was there for us in good times, but also in bad times. Her knowledge and compassion made her an icon of the Netherlands,” Rutte said.
Dutch citizens immediately gathered outside the palace on Monday to show their support for their much adored queen. Laura Dinkshof was among who made a homemade orange banner.
“We hope the queen will see it,” she said. “It says we were very happy with our queen and we wish her a nice retirement and that we have trust in our new king.”
4. Queen Beatrix Has Experienced Much Family Misfortune During her Reign
Beatrix’s husband, Prince Claus, died in 2002, taking a toll on the queen. In 2009, a man attacked the royal family by trying to crash into an open-topped bus carrying them as they celebrated the Queens Day national holiday. The driver killed seven people who had gathered to watch the royal family. Finally, Beatrix’s second son, Prince Friso, was left in a coma after being hit by an avalanche while skiing in Austria.
5. She is Passing the Crown to Her Eldest Son, Willem-Alexander
The Queen of Netherland’s eldest son, Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, will take over as King of Netherlands.
“It is with the greatest of confidence that I will hand over the throne on April 30 to my son, Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange,” Beatrix said.
He is a 45-year-old father of three young daughters, an International Olympic Committee member, a pilot and a water management expert. It is believed that Queen Beatrix waiting so long to abdicate from the throne so her son could enjoy being a father.
6. The Queen Believes its Time for a New Generation to Rule
Responsibility for our country must now lie in the hands of a new generation,” she said.
7. He Will be the Netherlands’ First King Since 1890
Prince Willem-Alexander will be the first king of Netherlands since King Willem III died in 1890.
8. Willem-Alexander Has Struggled to Win the Affection of the Netherlands
Over the years, Prince Willem-Alexander has struggled to gain popularity with the Netherlands. In college was known as a heavy drinker and a frat boy. He was also known for upsetting the press. As a boy, he once shouted “All press, piss off” at a royal photo session. The Prince of Orange has since been groomed for his new position as king, to which Queen Beatrix believes he is ready for.
9. Willem-Alexander’s Wife, Maxima, Will be Queen
Prince Willem-Alexander’s popular wife, Princess Maxima, helped him gain acceptance since their marriage in 2002. Starting April 30, they will together take over the throne.
“He and Princess Maxima are fully prepared for their future roles,” Beatrix said. “They will serve our nation with dedication, faithfully preserve the constitution and bring all their talents to the monarchy.”
10. The News Raises Questions of Whether or Not Queen Elizabeth II Will Follow Suit
So when’s the Queen of England going to give up her throne? She is, afterall, 86 years old. Despite the abdication of Queen Beatrix, such is rare in England and Queen Elizabeth II will most likely hold to her duties until the very end.