Beatrix abdicates to let the 'new generation' rule in the Netherlands

 

The Dutch head of state, Queen Beatrix, is to abdicate in favour of her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander, after a 33-year reign marked by controversy and even civil disobedience.

Beatrix, who is 75 on Thursday, announced in a national television address this evening that she would step down on 30 April, enabling her son, 45, to become the first Dutch king for more than a century. She has ruled since 1980 following the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana.

"I am not abdicating because this office is too much of a burden, but out of conviction that the responsibility for our nation should now rest in the hands of a new generation," she said. "I am deeply grateful for the great faith you have shown in me in the many years that I could be your Queen."

Unlike the reign of her widely-admired mother, Beatrix's time on the throne as the sixth monarch of the House of Orange has been marked by tragedy and scandal.

Her middle son, Prince Johan Friso, has been in coma since March last year after being caught in an avalanche while skiing in Austria. He had already been removed from the line of royal succession for marrying Mabel Wisse Smit without parliamentary permission after Dutch media published details of her relationship with a mobster.

But the greatest controversy – resulting in riots – came in 1996 when Beatrix married a German aristocrat with Nazi links; Klaus-Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg had been active in the Hitler Youth movement.

She and her family survived an assassination attempt in Apeldoorn in 2009, when a man drove a car into a street parade in which the royal family were participating. The vehicle missed the Queen and her family but hit members of the public, seven of whom died along with the attacker.

Last year she faced criticism after dismissing calls to hand back some of her annual €830,000 state allowance in a nod to the economic crisis, as Spain's King Juan Carlos had done.

Under Dutch law the monarch has few powers and the role is largely ceremonial, although Queen Beatrix has met weekly with successive prime ministers to discuss matters of government.

Beatrix, the oldest-ever Dutch monarch, is believed to have stayed in the role longer to allow time for Prince Willem-Alexander to enjoy fatherhood before becoming King: he has three young daughters with Maxima Zorreguieta, an Argentinian investment banker.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin