Dutch party on streets as royals prepare for handover

Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:34pm EDT
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By Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Willem-Alexander will become the first King of the Netherlands in more than 120 years when Queen Beatrix passes the crown to her eldest son on Tuesday morning.

"He's ready, in every way," Queen Beatrix said of her 46-year-old son, a water management specialist who is expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy, as she bid farewell to the nation in a subdued televised address on Monday night.

April 30, or Queen's day, is always a day for partying in the Netherlands, although many Dutch took Monday off work and started celebrating in earnest from Monday evening with street bands and music.

But this year the city of Amsterdam is putting on a special show to celebrate the investiture of Willem-Alexander and the abdication of Beatrix, 75, who wants to retire after 33 years in the job.

The royals are broadly popular, with 78 percent of Dutch in favor of the monarchy up from 74 percent a year ago, according to an Ipsos poll.

But they have been stripped of their political influence, and no longer appoint the mediator who conducts exploratory talks when forming government coalitions.

Amsterdam is already awash with orange, the royal color. Houses are covered in bunting and flags, shop windows are stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers and many partygoers are decked out in the royal colors.

Nearly a million people 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 at dawn setting up traditional makeshift bric-a-brac stalls.   Continued...

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (R), his wife Crown Princess Maxima and Queen Beatrix (C) of the Netherlands arrive at a gala dinner organised on the eve of the abdication of the Queen and the inauguration of her successor King Willem-Alexander at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Robin Utrecht/Pool