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A Gracious Royal Exit


Queen Beatrix and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands.  (Reuters)

Queen Beatrix and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands. (Reuters)


In 1890, ten year old Princess Wilhelmina became Queen of the The Netherlands. Her father, King William III had outlived his three sons and brother. The Netherlands has been ruled by women ever since.

Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 in favor of her daughter, Juliana, who in turn abdicated in 1980 in favor of her daughter, Beatrix. Both women lived long, contented lives in retirement. Wilhelmina died in 1962 at the age of 82, and Juliana died in 2004 at the age of 94. Today, Queen Beatrix has carried on the tradition begun by her grandmother. She has announced her abdication, just three days shy of her 75th birthday, in favor of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

The about-to-be-King is 45 years old. After service in the military, he studied history at Leiden University, where he earned a reputation as a beer-drinking frat boy who was almost as quick with the flip-lip as Princess Anne of Great Britain. Years of grooming for the throne have made him a very respectable Prince, married since 2002 to Argentine-born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti. Willem-Alexander will provide The Netherlands with a short-term kingship, since he has fathered three daughters, Princess Catharina-Amalia (age 9), Princess Alexia (age 7) and Princess Ariane (age 5). In thirty years or so, The Netherlands will once again have a queen. Though the Dutch were not initially thrilled with Princess Máxima because her father had been part of a military dictatorship in Argentina, she has endeared herself to them through hard work and linguistic fluency.

Prince Willem-Alexander has two younger brothers. Prince Friso (44) was injured in a skiing accident last year and is still in a coma. Prince Constantijn is 43. The Queen has been a widow since 2002.

Prince Willem-Alexander will be crowned on April 30, in a ceremony that is sure to bring out all the remaining European royals, deposed, retired and otherwise. The Dutch royal family has almost as many ties to the minor royals of Germany and Austria as the English do.

Just for comparison’s sake…..Queen Elizabeth will be 87 in April and Prince Charles was 64 last November.  



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