Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (L) and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. Credit: Reuters Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (L) and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
Credit: Reuters

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands steps down from her throne Tuesday, 33 years after her coronation.

The 75-year-old royal will abdicate and hand over the sceptre of power to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander.

He is the first male to accede to the Dutch throne since 1890. His very popular wife, Máxima Zorreguieta, the daughter of a former member of Argentina’s military junta, will be named queen.

 

Beatrix became the Dutch monarch on April 30 1980 when her mother Queen Juliana herself abdicated on health grounds. Seen as more 'business-like' and detached than her mother, Queen Beatrix was nevertheless as a stable force in volatile Dutch politics. On the day of her coronation, a violent riot by anti-royal squatters and anarchists with banners reading Geen woning, geen kroning” (No Housing, no Crowning) marred celebrations. But a spontaneous kiss on Beatrix's cheek from a well-wisher in Amsterdam in 1988 marked reconciliation between the royal family and the republican capital.

On occasion, Beatrix managed to strike the right note in emotional times. Warm and sensitive, she visited victims of the Bijlmermeer plane crash in 1992, in which 43 people were killed when a Boeing cargo plane flew into an apartment block.

The queen had to endure her own personal troubles. Her husband Claus died in 2002, her mother Juliana and father Bernhard died in 2004.

In 2009, Beatrix and members of her family narrowly escaped injury or even death when a man drove through people lining the street in an attack attempt on her open-top bus during a parade. Eight people died on that day.

And in a huge tragedy in 2012, her second son Friso was buried in an avalanche following a ski accident in the Austria Alps and has been in a coma ever since. Some media speculate that this family misfortune may have led her to abdicate.

But today in the Netherlands there is actually just one subject that is dominating the news in the past weeks. A lot of festivals are planned in Amsterdam and all over Holland – there is history in the making.

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