Jan. 28, 2013 (TSR) – Queen Beatrix is to stand down on April 30, 33 years to the day after her coronation. The queen is abdicating in favour of her son Willem Alexander, who will become 46 on April 27.
In a short address, broadcast on radio and television, the queen said this year – which includes her 75th birthday and celebrations to mark 200 years of the monarchy – is a good time to step down.
‘I have been thinking about it for some time,’ the queen said. ‘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.’
King and queen
Willem-Alexander and princess Maxima are ‘fully prepared for their future role’ and will use all their talents to serve the country and keep faith in the constitution, she said.
Despite suggestions the new king will be known as Willem IV, this is not the case and the crown prince will continue to be known by his full name. His wife, Maxima, will be known as queen Maxima.
Willem Alexander will be the first king of the Netherlands since the death of his great-great-grandfather William III 1890.
Maxima, the daughter of a former member of the Argentine junta, has also let it be known her parents will not be at the coronation in Amsterdam. They were not at Maxima’s wedding to Willem Alexander either but did attend the christening of their children.
Dutch monarchs are technically not crowned but sworn in or inaugurated.
In a reaction to the news, prime minister Mark Rutte said the queen had put her heart and soul into the job. She is an icon, the prime minister said.
54 state visits and five prime ministers
Thirty-three years after her coronation, after 54 state visits abroad and having lived through five prime ministers, queen Beatrix is stepping down.
Queen Beatrix was born on January 31, 1938 and lived with her parents queen Juliana and prince Bernhard in the Soestdijk palace in Baarn until the family fled to Britain following the outbreak of war.
Juliana and her two daughters then moved on to Canada, returning to the Netherlands in 1945. At the age of 18, she was sworn in as a member of the Raad van State, the government’s highest advisory body.
After leaving school, the young princess went to Leiden University where she she took preliminary exams in law before graduating in general studies.
In June 1965 she became engaged to Claus von Amsberg – a move which created quite a stir, not least because Claus had been a member of the Hitler Youth. When research showed he was not implicated in any war crimes, the way was cleared for the wedding.
They married on March 10, 1966. The wedding procession through Amsterdam was disturbed by a smoke bomb.
The couple went on to have three sons: Willem-Alexander, Friso and Constantijn. The family lived in the Drakensteyn castle near Hilversum.
On April 30, 1908, queen Juliana abdicated and Beatrix became queen – an event that was also marred by riots and protests.
According to Nos television, Beatrix immediately took a different approach to the monarchy than her mother, developing a more modern style of rule. ‘She showed that she is a hard worker, professional, a perfectionist and punctual,’ Nos said.
The queen has not been afraid to address social issues in her annual Christmas speech and has spoken about the need for respect and solidarity.
The first 20 years of her reign were relatively free from scandal. Shortly before the turn of the century, the first problems arose, when her son and crown prince Willem-Alexander said he wanted to marry Maxima Zorreguieta, daughter of a former member of the Argentinian junta.
Only when it was agreed he would not attend the wedding, did parliament approve the marriage.
The queen’s second son Friso also caused problems. His chosen bride Mabel Wisse Smit was said to have connections with a mobster. Friso opted to leave the line to the throne in order to avoid having to win parliamentary approval for the wedding.
Prince Claus died in 2002, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and a lung infection. Then in 2004, both her parents died.
In 2005, Beatrix celebrated her 25th year on the throne, undertaking a tour of all the Dutch provinces and the former Caribbean colonies.
Rumours that Beatrix would abdicate have been circulating since 2009, when she turned 70. But, insiders say, she decided against it because she was still fit, and it would give Willem-Alexander more time to have a normal life with his wife and three daughters.
In 2009, there were more problems. During the Queen’s Day festivities, a young unemployed man drove his car into the crowd, killing several people in front of the royal coach. The royal family also came under fire for their high income from the state during the economic crisis. And Willem-Alexander and Maxima’s new holiday home in Mozambique also led to parliamentary questions and the intervention of the prime minister.
The Netherlands was undergoing a period of politicial instability, and some said Beatrix was exercising too much power behind the scenes. In 2012, parliament voted to remove the queen from her traditional role in forming a new government.
In February 2012, tragedy struck when Friso was hit by an avalanche while on a skiing holiday. He remains unconscious in a hospital in London. Since the accident, speculation has mounted about the abdication, which is traditional among Dutch monarchs.
Insiders expect she will return to live in Drakensteyn castle and devote herself to her grandchildren, and advising prince Willem-Alexander on his new role.
This is an unofficial translation of Her Majesty the Queen Beatrix short abdication speech.
As you all know, in a few days from now I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am thankful to be able to do so in good health. At the end of this year, we will commemorate the fact that our country became a monarchy 200 years ago, an event which heralded a new era in our history.
The two events together have brought me to the decision to abdicate this year. It seems to me the time is ripe to take this step, which I have been contemplating for some years now.
I have always considered it a special privilege to have spent a large portion of my life in the service of our country and to fulfil the task of monarch. Prince Claus, for many years, was my great support.
This wonderful task has never given me anything but great satisfaction. It has been inspiring to have been involved with the lives of people, to share their grief and to experience moments of joy and national pride. I have met with the same warmth and sympathy from the people in the Caribbean parts of our kingdom.
I do not abdicate, therefore, because the task has become an onerous one, but because I am convinced that the responsibility for out country should now be placed in the hands of a new generation.
It is with a feeling of the highest confidence that on the 30th of April I will hand over the crown to my son, the prince of Orange. He and princess Máxima are fully prepared for their future task. They will serve the country devotedly, keep it according to the constitution and will use their many talents to make the monarchy their own.
I feel heartened in the knowledge that my abdication does not mean I will have to say goodbye to you. I hope to meet many of you again in the future. I am deeply grateful for your faith in me during the many wonderful years that I have been privileged enough to be your queen.
Source: Dutch News