Dutch Queen abdicates, Willem-Alexander to succeed

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:33pm EST
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By Anthony Deutsch and Sara Webb

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announced she was abdicating in favor of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, telling her country it was time to hand the crown to the next generation after more than three decades on the throne.

Willem-Alexander, 45, who will be sworn in as king on April 30, is married to Princess Maxima, who comes from Argentina, and has three young children.

Decades of grooming for the throne involved shaking off his image as a beer-drinking fraternity boy whose blunt comments upset the press and politicians and did not fit the image of the Netherlands' low-key "bicycling monarchy".

Speaking calmly in a television broadcast, Beatrix, who once faced scandal over her father's involvement in a bribery case and whose middle son lies in a coma after a skiing accident, said she was stepping down because she felt Willem-Alexander was now ready to take her place on the throne.

"I am not stepping down because the tasks of the function are too great, but out of the conviction that the responsibilities of our country should be passed on to a new generation," she said.

"It is with the greatest confidence that on April 30 of this year I will pass on the kingship to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Maxima are entirely ready for their future tasks."

The decision appeared popular with ordinary Dutch people.

"She's been a strong, hard-working woman but it is good that she is now giving room to a younger generation," said Mandy, a 26-year-old who works as a secretary in Amsterdam.   Continued...

Netherlands' Queen Beatrix (R) and her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander are seen waving to well-wishers from the balcony of the Royal Noordeinde Palace after opening the new parliamentary year in The Hague on this April 15, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen/Files (NETHERLANDS - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS)