Dutch start orange countdown to Royal handover
By Thomas Escritt and Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Queen Beatrix will pass the crown to her eldest son Willem-Alexander on Tuesday, making him the first King of the Netherlands in over 120 years and the Dutch are getting ready for a party.
Orange, the royal color, is everywhere. Houses are covered in bunting and flags. Shop windows are stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers.
April 30, or Queen's day, is always a day for partying in the Netherlands. But this year the city of Amsterdam is putting on a special show to celebrate the investiture of the 46-year-old King and the abdication of his 75-year-old mother who wants to retire after 33 years in the job.
Nearly a million are expected to join the street party with dancing to bands and DJs helping create a carnival atmosphere. As always, there will be people on the pavements setting up traditional makeshift bric-a-brac stalls.
Britain's Prince Charles and Japan's Crown Princess Masako, who is making her first foreign trip since falling ill a decade ago will be among 2,000 visitors at the official ceremony.
"There will be tears on Tuesday," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, paying tribute to "this formidable lady who has ruled this country for over 30 years".
On her last evening as Queen, Beatrix will hold a banquet in the newly renovated Rijksmuseum. The next morning at 10:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) she will sign her abdication, whereupon Willem-Alexander immediately becomes King and his wife Maxima, a popular former investment banker from Argentina, becomes Queen.
All three will then appear on the palace balcony to wave and address the crowds in Dam Square. Continued...