QUEEN Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced she will abdicate in favour of her son, Crown Prince Willem Alexander, at the end of April after 33 years in power.
“It is with the greatest of confidence that I will hand over the throne on April 30 to my son, Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange,” Beatrix said on national television, using the official title of the heir apparent.
The queen, who is to turn 75 on Thursday, said her birthday and the 200th anniversary of the monarchy in 2013 “were the reason for me to step down”.
“I’m standing down because public service is too heavy for me, because of the belief that responsibility for our country should be in the hands of a new generation,” she said.
Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke immediately after the queen.
“She has always done her utmost for Dutch society, being visible and with enormous energy,” Rutte said.
“She has grown into a Dutch icon,” he said, also paying homage to Willem Alexander.
“He and Princess Maxima are fully prepared for the task,” Rutte said. “They will serve our country with devotion.”
Beatrix’s much-loved mother, Juliana, also abdicated, in 1980, when her daughter stepped into her shoes at age 42.
Beatrix’s abdication ends more than 100 years of female reign on the Dutch throne.