Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne on Jan. 30 in favor of her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander, who will become king on April 30.
The announcement came on Jan. 28, only a few days before the queen turned 75. Just like Queen Beatrix’s marriage years ago to a German diplomat after World War II, this move was a shock to the Dutch people. “I was just like a large number of Dutch people, very surprised, because the announcement came very suddenly on a Monday evening and there were no signs beforehand,” said Will te Winkel, a Dutch resident of the Netherlands.
Willem-Alexander will be the first king in the Netherlands since 1890, and Winkel said that while he thinks it will be strange at first, he doesn’t’ think this will bring a lot of changes to the country.
In a broadcast to her Dutch citizens, Beatrix explained her decision: “I’ve always considered it as an extraordinary privilege to dedicate a large part of my life to service our nation and in accordance with my task, to fulfill my duty as queen,” said Beatrix in her announcement to the Dutch people. “It is inspiring to feel close to people, to sympathise in grievances and share times of joy and national pride.”
While Beatrix did speak of her sentiments of liking her time as queen, she also noted that she understands that it’s time to pass the position to her son. She also noted that she feels her son and Princess Maxima are fully prepared for the responsibility: “I do not step back because I wouldn’t feel fit for my office anymore but the conviction that the responsibility for the nation should be in the hands of a new generation,” Beatrix said.
According to The Telegraph, Beatrix is the oldest monarch in the Netherlands and many think she remained on the throne for this length of time in order to help the Dutch society adjust to a large influx of immigrants: “Since her coronation in the 1980s, she’s applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in an article by The Telegraph. “She has grown into a Dutch icon.”