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Dutch Queen Beatrix, centre, and Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima arrive for a banquet hosted by the Dutch Royal family last night Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP/Press Association Images

Queen Beatrix abdicates as son Willem-Alexander becomes king

The abdication of the Netherlands’ queen saw the population of Amsterdam double overnight as King Willem-Alexander became Europe’s youngest monarch

WILLEM-ALEXANDER HAS become the Dutch king this morning after his mother queen Beatrix signed her act of abdication in Amsterdam.

“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 queen shed a tear on arrival, and the act was then witnessed by Willem-Alexander, his Argentine-born Queen Maxima and members of the government.

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

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander becomes Europe’s youngest monarch at 46 and will be the first Dutch king since 1890 and the first of a new wave of relatively youthful European monarchs, with future kings and queens, including Britain’s Prince Charles, attending today’s ceremony.

Amsterdam’s population has doubled with at least 800,000 visitors flooding the city’s streets and canals as Beatrix, 75, ends her 33-year reign by signing the act of abdication at the royal palace.

A steady festive stream of wellwishers poured into Dam Square opposite the palace early this morning, all bedecked in orange, hoping to catch a glimpse of Willem-Alexander and his glamorous Argentine-born queen-to-be Maxima, 41.

Some people spent the night on Amsterdam’s main square to ensure having a good view of the royal balcony, while partygoers from across the Netherlands descended on the capital, many carrying Dutch flags.

Over 10,000 police have been deployed in Amsterdam, and bomb-sniffing dogs carried out last-minute security checks for the expected 25,000 orange-clad crown on Dam Square.

Beatrix, 75, bade farewell to the nation in her role as queen in a televised address to the nation late Monday, before becoming a mere princess again.

“Not power, nor personal will, nor hereditary authority, but only the will to serve the community can give substance to a contemporary monarchy,” said an emotional Beatrix.

Willem-Alexander is well-prepared for the task ahead of him and will stand above party and group interests, she said.

The monarchy is popular in the Netherlands, but some question the cost of the royal household and republicans are seeking to get the king’s €825,000 tax-free salary reduced.

- © AFP, 2013

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