Will Queen Beatrix’ abdication mean the demise of queens in Amsterdam?
With Queen Beatrix’ abdication of the Dutch throne after a 33-year reign, Holland’s first king in more than a century took the reins. On 30 April 2013, amidst the mayhem of Queensday, the 6th monarch of the Huis van Oranje-Nassau (House of Orange), which has ruled the Netherlands since the early 19th century, handed over her mostly ceremonial powers to her eldest son, 45-year-old Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand, Prince of Orange.
The popular queen, a degreed lawyer who turns 75 this week, assumed her royal duties in 1980 after her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated on her 71st birthday following a 31-year reign. Similarly, her grandmother Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 at age 68. Beatrix was widowed more than a decade ago when Prince Claus, a former German diplomat, died after a long illness. She’s now the oldest reigning Dutch monarch and ranks among Europe’s wealthiest royals. Sadly, her middle son, Friso, lies in a coma following a 2012 skiing accident in Austria.
Despite her slim legal powers, Queen Beatrix has enormous interest in national politics. She’s called for increased tolerance and multiculturalism, and has challenged right-wing politician Geert Wilders on his anti-immigrant stance. Although she’s a constitutional monarch, the queen sits on the Dutch cabinet and had a say, until last year, in who should form a government in the complicated Dutch coalition system. In 2012, parliament took over that role after controversy over its lack of transparency.
When he took the reins in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk, the Prince of Orange became the Netherlands’ first king since his great-great-grandfather William III died in 1890. Known as “Alex” to friends, dubbed “Prince Pils” by the tabloids for his passion for a particular beer, the new monarch has polished his image since his wild boyhood, when he allegedly told the press to “piss off” at a royal photo session.
Willem-Alexander’s CV includes a history degree from the University of Leiden, service in the Dutch Royal Navy, completion of the 1992 New York marathon and membership on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Since casting off his playboy ways, he’s acquired both a military and civic pilot’s license. His interest in water management yielded a 2006 appointment as chairman of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB).
In 2002, the future king took Máxima Zorrigueta, daughter of a civilian minister in Argentina’s 1976–1983 military dictatorship, as his bride. His marriage to a commoner with ties to the regime responsible for widespread human rights abuses initially raised eyebrows in the Netherlands.
But the blond beauty and former investment banker wooed Dutchies with her quick fluency with their language and down-to-earth ways. She and her prince have three daughters, Princesses Catharina-Amalia, Alexia and Ariane. Catharina-Amalia is first in line to succeed her father.
When the Netherlands celebrated its first Koningsdag on April 26, 2014, boatloads of local queens turned out—proof that Queen Beatrix’ abdication did NOT signal the demise of feminine royalty in Amsterdam!