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THE HAGUE - Dutch Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in favor of her eldest son Prince Willem-Alexander in an address to the nation on Monday evening.
"I have the greatest confidence to hand over the throne to my son, the Prince of Orange," she said.
Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announces her abdication in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, in a hastily announced broadcast on Dutch National Television to the nation at her home palace in The Hague in this handout picture dated Jan 28, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
"He and Princess Maxima are prepared for their tasks. With all their talents, they will choose their own approach. I hope to meet you very often and I am grateful for the confidence and the many years that I have been the Queen," she said.
The resignation from the throne will take place on April 30 this year.
"On Thursday, I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am grateful that I can do this in good health. At the end of this year, our Kingdom will last two hundred years. These two things made me decide to step aside from the throne," said the outgoing Queen.
In response to the announcement, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, "I admire the extraordinary commitment of the Queen for more than thirty years."
"Since her inauguration in 1980, she has served Dutch society with heart and soul. On behalf of myself and the cabinet, I would like to express my gratitude," he said.
"She is a queen who stands in the heart of society," Rutte added. "She has always been there, in good times with sports highlights for example, but also and especially during the difficult moments as in the Bijlmer (airplane crash 1992), Enschede (fireworks disaster 2000) and during Queen's Day 2009 (assault on Royal Family). She touched people and became an icon of the Netherlands."
Rutte also expressed his confidence in her successor Willem-Alexander.
"He faces a demanding task," Rutte said. "The monarchy should represent and bind people abroad, he once said. I believe that the new King and Queen will fulfill this tradition in a convincing way."