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Willem-Alexander becomes Netherlands king as Beatrix abdicates

The Hague, Apr 30 (): Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has become the youngest monarch of Europe after the throne was abdicated by his mother, Queen Beatrix. The country welcomed the 21st-century king with a massive, orange-hued party.

“I Queen Beatrix… abdicate in favour of my son Willem-Alexander,” the act said, as read out before the signing that was broadcast live from the Amsterdam palace.

The huge crowds gathered outside the palace cheered on watching the signing ceremony on giant screens in Dam Square. The Queen and the prince and his wife Maxima – a 41-year-old Argentine-born investment banker – signed the abdication deed. Shortly after the signing was over, the three royals emerged on a balcony above Dam Square.

The visibly emotional queen, now Princess Beatrix, told the crowds that she was happy and grateful to introduce to them their new king, Willem-Alexander.

In turn, King Willem-Alexander thanked his mother for “33 moving and interesting years”, saying he and the Dutch public and people in Dutch overseas territories were “intensely grateful” to her.

The Queen abdicated to end her 33-year reign and King Willem-Alexander has become the first Dutch male monarch in more than a century since 1890.

Queen Beatrix announced her plan to stand down in January, saying her son was ready to rule and that it was time for the throne to be held by “a new generation”.

The king Willem-Alexander and queen’s three daughters, including their eldest, now Princess of Orange Catharina-Amalia, 9, attended the ceremony, wearing identical yellow and white dresses.

In the evening, the royal family will take part in a water pageant. The royal ceremonies will be graced with many royals and high-ranking dignitaries, including British Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain and Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and his wife.

Queen Beatrix’s mother Juliana resigned the throne in 1980 on her 71st birthday, and her grandmother Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 at the age of 68.