Although I knew one day it would happen, it still came as quite a surprise. On Monday 28 January Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced that she is to abdicate on 30 April 2013. Just after 5pm I received the message that the Queen would hold a speech on television and that more information about the subject would follow afterwards. It would be followed by a speech by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. For me and most other people this said enough: she was going to announce her abdication, just three days before her 75th birthday. I think about all the Dutch were sitting in front of their television when the broadcast started at 7pm.
In her speech the Queen said she had been thinking of abdication already for some time. This year seems to be the right time. Not only does she celebrate her 75th birthday on 31 January. At the end of the year the Netherlands also marks the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She however also noted: “I am convinced that it is time for the responsibility for our country to pass to a new generation.” She is certain that her son, the Prince of Orange and his wife Princess Máxima are “fully prepared for their future role”. She ended with the words that she hopes she will still be able to meet the Dutch people after having abdicated, and finished with the words: “I am deeply grateful to you for the trust that you have placed in me throughout the many rewarding years I have had the privilege of being your Queen.” (see video).
As the official date of abdication Queen Beatrix mentioned 30 April 2013, the day she will have been the Queen of the Netherlands for exactly 33 years. As back then she will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, followed by the investiture of the new King at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. After that Queen Beatrix will once again be Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. The Prince of Orange will reign as King Willem-Alexander, and his wife will become Queen Máxima. Their eldest daughter Amalia will be the first ever Princess of Orange.
The Dutch will not only have to get used to a new reigning couple and their first King since 1890. Also Queen’s Day will no longer be celebrated on 30 April. Because of the accession to the throne of King Willem-Alexander there will not be a traditional Queen’s Day this year. As of 2014 King’s Day, instead of Queen’s Day, will be celebrated on 27 April, the birthday of the new King. Prince Maurits and Prince Bernhard, the eldest sons of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, will loose their succession rights.
I hope to be there on 30 April in Amsterdam.