In January, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced she would abdicate her role on April 30, 2013, in favor of her son, Willelm-Alexander, 46. Queen Beatrix has been head of state since 1980, when her mother abdicated and she ascended to the throne. Tuesday the Queen will legally sign the abdication, in Amsterdam, and the people will celebrate their new king.
The country already has an orange glow, the royal color in the Netherlands. Orange headgear, orange clothing, orange banners and national flags are everywhere as the nation prepares for a huge party.
Queen Beatrix has officially said her farewell to the people who she has served so well for the last 33 years. In her farewell speech she asked for support to her son, saying, "Now that my oldest son is to take over this fine and responsible job tomorrow, it is my deep wish that the new royal couple will feel themselves supported by your loving trust," the popular monarch said in a nationally televised address. Willem-Alexander's Argentine-born wife Princess Maxima will be queen. "I am convinced that Willem-Alexander will apply himself with true devotion for everything a good king is obliged to do."
Amsterdam, the country's capital, will be flooded with tourists and security is tight. A heavy police and security presence will aim to make today an enjoyable and safe experience for visitors.
The Huffington Post reports "Royal guests from 18 countries arrived in the course of the day, and city traffic was frequently interrupted by limousines with tinted windows and police escorts. Among the many notables on hand are Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, and the Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako."
The Queen, who turned 75 on Jan. 31, announced her planned abdication, in a pre-recorded, national television broadcast. Making the announcement she also revealed that abdication was not a snap decision but rather one she had considered for some years. In the Netherlands, the role of royal head of state is not a "job for life" and abdication is a normal process. For the queen it was now "the moment to lay down my crown."
The date for the abdication was set for April 30, Queen's Day in the Netherlands, and today her people are marking the event.
Events usually attached to this special holiday in the Netherlands have been replaced with ones relating to the inaugration of the country's first king for some years. Normally, on April 30 the streets of the Netherlands turn into a giant flea market as citizens do not need a permit to sell goods on the streets on Queen's Day.
Tuesday's inauguration is expected to be widely celebrated across the Netherlands but the country does have a pro-republican element who may offer some sort of protest. They will have to tread carefully though. The Netherlands is a country which purports to welcome free-speech but that is not the case when it comes to the royal family. The "lese majeste" law, still prohibits insulting the royal family and police act accordingly.
Towns, villages and cities across the Netherlands will be a sea of orange today as the Dutch celebrate the new king. Some people may wear white as a form of protest against the monarchy but early Tuesday the Dutch royal color of orange was evident everywhere.
The Dutch monarchy is 200-year-old but these days the role of queen or king is largely ceremonial. Beatrix's reign has been successful and she remains a hugely popular figure in the Netherlands with many of her "subjects" simply referring to their queen as Bea.
The Netherlands has faced challenges such as an influx of Muslim immigrants, mainly from North Africa. The normally tolerant Dutch people have changed, and there has been unrest in the country. "In her Christmas Day speech in 2010, Beatrix made a heartfelt plea for unity, saying, 'with each other we all make up one society,'" reports the Miami Herald.
Handing the crown of the Netherlands to her eldest son, 45-year-old Willelm-Alexander, the new head of state will be the first king of the Netherlands for more than a century.
Acknowledging her abdication on television immediately after the announcement, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid tribute to the queen saying "Since her coronation... she has applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society."
Will her son be as successful? Times change and many modernists believe kings and queens belong in fairy stories, not the real world. The Netherlands in line with the rest of Europe faces tough economic challenges and immigration issues. Such challenges could lead to a rise in republicans. Tuesday however is a day of celebration in the country.
For the Netherlands it is "The Queen is not dead, but long live the King."