Friday, February 8, 2013


IBRAHIM ISA'S FOCUS --- The Netherlands

29 January 2013


 -- Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to abdicate for son

-- A Queen Who Transformed Dutch Royalty**

-- *Seen by Many in the Netherlands as a Surrogate Grandmother.

Dutch Queen abdicates, Willem-Alexander to succeed

By Anthony Deutsch and Sara Webb | Reuters -- 11 hours ago

   *Dutch Queen abdicates, Willem-Alexander to succeed*/. /Dutch Queen
   Beatrix abdicates in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, who
   will become king April 30, 2013.

   Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announces her
   abdication in favour ...

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announced she was abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, telling her country it was time to hand the crown to the next generation after more than three decades on the throne.

Willem-Alexander, 45, who will be sworn in as king on April 30, is married to Princess Maxima, who comes from Argentina, and has three young children.

Decades of grooming for the throne involved shaking off his image as a beer-drinking fraternity boy whose blunt comments upset the press and politicians and did not fit the image of the Netherlands' low-key "bicycling monarchy".

Speaking calmly in a television broadcast, Beatrix, who once faced scandal over her father's involvement in a bribery case and whose middle son lies in a coma after a skiing accident, said she was stepping down because she felt Willem-Alexander was now ready to take her place on the throne.

"I am not stepping down because the tasks of the function are too great, but out of the conviction that the responsibilities of our country should be passed on to a new generation," she said.

"It is with the greatest confidence that on April 30 of this year I will pass on the kingship to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Maxima are entirely ready for their future tasks."

The decision appeared popular with ordinary Dutch people.

"She's been a strong, hard-working woman but it is good that she is now giving room to a younger generation," said Mandy, a 26-year-old who works as a secretary in Amsterdam.

A constitutional monarchy, the Netherlands has reduced the involvement of the Royal House in politics. The queen had taken part in forming government coalitions by appointing a mediator, a role that raised questions about undue influence on the democratic process and which was scrapped last year.

Sources close to the royal family said Beatrix did not want to go until she felt her son was ready and his children were old enough. She also wanted to ensure that anti-immigrant, eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders, of whom she disapproved, was in no danger of assuming real political influence.

She alluded in speeches to the need for tolerance and multi-culturalism, comments that were seen as criticisms of Wilders' anti-Islamic views - while Wilders criticised the queen, who has a penchant for huge hats, when she donned a Muslim headcovering on a trip to the Middle East.

Wilders' poor showing at the last election and loss of influence in politics, could well have contributed to her decision to abdicate.


With Willem-Alexander on the throne, the Netherlands is likely to revive the debate about the role of the monarchy and the high cost of maintaining the royal household, particularly when ordinary Dutch people are having to deal with austerity measures.

"There is an ongoing discussion about the role of the royals in a modern society, and that discussion needs to continue," said Diederik Samsom, leader of the Labour Party, which is part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's coalition government.

As queen, Beatrix often headed trade missions, most recently in Singapore, and was involved in promoting Dutch defence sales in the Middle East.

Beatrix, whose full name is Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Princess of Oranje-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld, has been on the throne since 1980, when she took over from Queen Juliana.

Dutch queens have made a tradition of stepping aside for the next generation over the last century. Queen Wilhemina handed over to her daughter in 1948 after half a century on the throne. Queen Juliana was in deteriorating mental health when she made way for the 42-year-old Beatrix in 1980.

Willem-Alexander, who majored in history and has specialised in water management, will become Willem IV -- the first Dutch king in more than a century.


The Dutch royal family is popular with the public, but like the British royals, it has not escaped scandal and controversy.

While she was still Crown Princess, Beatrix married former German diplomat Claus von Amsberg in 1966, and faced street protests over her choice of husband.

Von Amsberg had been a member of the Hitler Youth, albeit involuntarily, and as a teenager served briefly in the army of the country which occupied the Netherlands in World War Two.

Prince Claus later underwent treatment for severe depression between in the 1980s, blaming the difficulty he found in reconciling his private life with his responsibilities as a public figure.

In the 1970s, Beatrix intervened in the most serious crisis to hit the royal family since the war, threatening not to take up the throne should parliament decide to prosecute her father Prince Bernhard for taking bribes in the Lockheed scandal.

The queen was emotionally shaken when a man drove his car into a Queen's Day procession in 2009.

Willem-Alexander, the queen's eldest son, was once the darling of Dutch tabloids because of his love of fast cars, good-looking women, and partying.

He caused a stir when he married a commoner whose father was a civilian minister in Argentina's military dictatorship from 1976-1983. But his bride, Maxima Zorrigueta, quickly won over the public with her easy manner and quick mastery of Dutch, and often seems to be more popular than her husband.

Last year, the family faced tragedy when Willem-Alexander's younger brother, Prince Friso, had a skiing accident in Austria while going off-piste. He is still in a coma.

(Reporting by Sara Webb and Anthony Deutsch; Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Giles Elgood)

* * *

*Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in a nationally televised address*

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced she is abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

In a pre-recorded address broadcast on TV, she said she would formally stand down on 30 April.

The queen, who is approaching her 75th birthday, said she had been thinking about this moment for several years and that now was "the moment to lay down my crown".

Queen Beatrix has been head of state since 1980, when her mother abdicated.

In the short televised statement, the queen said it was time for the throne to be held by "a new generation", adding that her son was ready to be king.

Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, is married to Maxima Zorreguieta, a former investment banker from Argentina, and has three young children.

He is a trained pilot and an expert in water management.

He will become the Netherlands' first king since Willem III, who died in 1890.

Speaking on television immediately after the abdication announcement, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid tribute to the queen.

* * *

*Anna Holligan BBC News*, The Netherlands

*Queen Beatrix is seen by many in the Netherlands as a surrogate grandmother. *

Most office buildings and universities proudly display her glamorous portrait, decorated in a range of suitably colourful costumes.

*She enjoys high approval ratings and is one of the most popular ruling monarchs in Europe. Under Dutch law it is still illegal to insult the queen. *

Her abdication is bound to raise interest in the UK, where Queen Elizabeth II is 86 and recently celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. But the situation is different in the Netherlands, where the queen is following recent tradition by abdicating, as her mother and grandmother did before her.

Prince Willem-Alexander's wife, Maxima, is arguably the most attention-generating member of the Dutch royal family. She is expected to be given the unofficial title Queen Maxima.

The queen will hand over to her son on Queen's Day on 30 April - already one of the biggest and most raucous celebrations on the Dutch calendar.

"Since her coronation... she has applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society," he said.

Abdication 'tradition'

Queen Beatrix is the sixth monarch from the House of Orange-Nassau, which has ruled the Netherlands since the early 19th Century.

Correspondents say she is extremely popular with most Dutch people, but her abdication was widely expected and will not provoke a constitutional crisis.

Under Dutch law, the monarch has few powers and the role is considered ceremonial.

In recent decades it has become the tradition for the monarch to abdicate.

Queen Beatrix's mother Juliana resigned the throne in 1980 on her 70th birthday, and her grandmother Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 at the age of 68.

Queen Beatrix will be 75 on Thursday.

She has remained active in recent years, but her reign has also seen traumatic events.

In 2009 a would-be attacker killed eight people when he drove his car into crowds watching the queen and other members of the royal family in a national holiday parade.

In March last year her second son, Prince Friso, was struck by an avalanche in Austria and remains in a coma.

* * *

 Beatrix: a Queen who transformed Dutch royalty

By Jan Hennop | AFP

The Netherlands' energetic Queen Beatrix, who on Monday announced she would abdicate in favour of crown prince Willem Alexander in April, has won many Dutch hearts in her almost 33 years on the throne by giving the monarchy a modern, hard-working image.

Stepping into the shoes of her much loved mother Juliana in 1980 at the age of 42, Beatrix quickly set out to make her mark on the country she was destined to rule by birth.

Contrary to her mother's unobtrusive style of rule, Beatrix refused to be relegated to ribbon-cutting; changing the mode of address from "madam" to "majesty", and*transforming one of the royal palaces in The Hague, the seat of government, into a working palace.*

Here she received heads of state in her affable though formal manner and met weekly with successive prime ministers to discuss matters of government, earning the nickname "chief executive officer of the Netherlands".

*She also signed laws and played an important role in Dutch politics by appointing the so-called "formateur" who explores possibilities for coalition government after general elections.*

Last year's polls in which Prime Minister Mark Rutte was elected to head government for a second time, marked the first time she was not actively involved in the formateur's appointment.

Born on January 31, 1938 as the first child of queen Juliana and prince Bernhardt, Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, princess of Orange-Nassau, lived with her family in exile in Britain and Canada during World War II.

After completing her law studies, she married West German diplomat Claus von Amsberg in March 1966 -- prompting violent demonstrations against the future queen's union with someone who had worn a Hitler Youth uniform as a boy.

Riots also preceded Beatrix's coronation on April 30, 1980 following her mother's surprise abdication after a 31-year reign, when Amsterdam squatters protested the high costs of the ceremony.

But the new Queen's humble approach soon started winning over her calvinist subjects.

*"Not power, personal desire nor a claim to hereditary power but only the desire to serve the community can give substance to a modern monarchy," she said in her crowning speech.*

*An opinion poll in April 2009 found that 85 percent of Dutch citizens felt Beatrix was performing well as head of state.*

Known colloquially as "Trix", the queen radiates a bourgeoise allure in her immaculately pressed, practical dresses and suits and a stiff helmet hairdo that a staggering collection of hats cannot tease out of place.

*"Only perfection was good enough for her. She worked very systematically, high in the sky like a bird of prey, no detail on the ground escaped her," a former prime minister, Dries van Agt, has said of the queen.*

*"The (royal) court is really run like a business," according to Henk Wesseling, historian and court advisor.*

A former servant said: "She can get pretty angry when things around her go wrong or if she is confronted with unexpected situations. Under all circumstances she wants to be in control of the situation."

*American magazine Forbes in 2008 listed Beatrix as the world's 14th wealthiest royal with an estimated net worth of 300 million dollars (214 million euros).*

She has three sons, the oldest of whom, Willem-Alexander (born 27 april 1967), will succeed her as monarch.

*A spate of misfortunes in the later years of her career was met with an outpouring of sympathy from her subjects.*

The latest tragedy struck last year when her middle son, Friso was left brain-damaged after being buried by an avalanche while skiing off-piste in Lech in Austria in February last year.

Her husband prince Claus died at the age of 76 in 2002, followed by the Queen's mother and then her father in 2004.

And on Queen's Day, April 30, 2009, the nation was plunged into shock when a man ploughed his car into festivalgoers in the central city of Apeldoorn, narrowly missing an open bus transporting Beatrix and members of her family.

Seven bystanders were killed in what the driver confessed was an attack on the royal family.

In an emotional, televised address to the nation shortly afterwards, Beatrix spoke of her "deep shock".

Opinion polls in the following days said support for the Queen had spiked, with 43 percent saying she should stay on the throne -- up from 27 percent before the attack.

*Beatrix, however, has never been a slave to polls.*

"I find popularity dangerous ... superficial and temporary," she once said in an interview with Dutch NOS public television.

Speculation rose over an abdication when in 2006 renovations were announced at Beatrix's distinctive octagonal-shaped Drankensteyn castle southeast of Amsterdam in 2006, where she is now expected to live.

*(Sources: BBC, 29 Jan. 2013)*

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