Just three days shy of her 75th birthday, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced that she is to abdicate, paving the way for her son Prince Willem-Alexander to occupy the Dutch throne.
The sovereign addressed her nation live on television and radio on Monday evening at 19:00. Speaking to the nation she said: "It is time for me to lay down my crown... I have been thinking about this decision for several years."
"It has been a great honour to serve my country. The reason is not that the responsibility was too great, but I feel that the responsibility should be held by a new generation."
Speaking of her decision she said: "I am proud and happy and I will not be disappearing from public life".
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Queen Beatrix's announcement perfectly parallels the circumstances which lead to her becoming queen. In 1980, her mother, Queen Juliana, made the announcement that, after 31 years on the throne, she was abdicating in favour of her eldest daughter.
"As one gets older one realises sooner or later that one's powers decrease and that one cannot fulfill one's duties as before," she said via a televised address.
Since then, Beatrix went on to become a gregarious monarch, who is believed to be the second richest woman in the world, and has succesfully headed up the Dutch nation for over two decades.
Now however, her son Willem-Alexander will step into the role, meaning his glamorous wife Maxima will now become queen – something that for years has captured the imagination of royal watchers who admire her style, elegance and ease.
In truth, now is perhaps the perfect time for the Dutch monarch to secure her legacy.
In early 2012, the House of Orange had a brush with tragedy when the second of Beatrix's three sons, Prince Johan Friso, slipped into a coma after being buried in an avalanche whilst skiing off piste.
His stoic mother was visibly trying to put her personal grief to one side when she bravely returned to public duty one month after her son's accident.
With prince Friso still in a critical condition at a private London hospital, his mother will now have the freedom to visit and care for him alongside his wife Mabel, with whom he has two daughters.
Queen Beatrix is expected to officially abdicate the throne on Queen's Day. The April 30 holiday – known as Koninginnedag – is held annually in honour of the monarch. However, 2013's ceremony is set to be a poignant event, walking the line between celebration and poignant reflection of Beatrix's 33-year reign.
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