With the announcement Her Majesty Queen Beatrix will formally abdicate, let’s have a look at the changed the Dutch Monarchy will undergo as an immediate result of the abdication.
Her Majesty the Queen will sign the Instrument of Abdication at the Royal Palace, Amsterdam on April 30, 2013 – the 33rd anniversary of her reign. Abdication itself is nothing new or unusual for the Dutch Royal Family; in fact, Her Majesty will be the third successive Dutch Monarch to voluntarily abdicate the Throne, following her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, and her mother, Queen Juliana.
The most obvious change is of course the fact the Netherlands will have a new Monarch – the first King in 122 years (Queen Beatrix had succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana, who herself had succeeded her own mother, Queen Wilhelmina). The current Prince of Orange will reign as King Willem-Alexander, and not King Willem IV as had been expected. His wife, Princess Maxima, will be his Queen– the first Dutch Queen Consort since Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont.
It has already been announced that the new King and Queen will make special visits to all the Dutch provinces and to the Caribbean within a year after their inauguration. The Prince of Orange has also revealed he will be stepping down as member of the International Olympic Committee.
Willem-Alexander, Princess Maxima and their daughters will continue to live at Villa Eikenhorst for now, although plans are already made for the time they move to Huis ten Bosch Palace. The Queen will make Drakensteyn Castle her residence at a later date.
The Queen’s and Princess Catharina-Amalia’s Future Titles
Under the Act on Membership in the Royal House, an abdicated Monarch reverts to his/her birth title of a Prince/Princess of the Netherlands. That means Queen Beatrix will formally become Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau after her abdication. However, it should be noted that the previous Queens Regnant who abdicated – Wilhelmina and Juliana – continued to be popularly known as Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana, even though both no longer legally held the title.
The Netherlands practice Equal Primogeniture (the eldest child, regardless of gender, is the heir), which means on 30 April the Netherlands will have its very first female Princess of Orange in her own right – Princess Catharina-Amalia, the eldest daughter of Willem-Alexander. The Princess will become the Princess of Orange under section 7 of the Membership of the Royal House Act. Princess Amalia will be the youngest heir apparent to the throne in Europe and the second-youngest in the world (after Prince Lerotholi Seeiso of Lesotho who was born in 2007). Amalia will also join Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden who is currently the only female heiress apparent in the world.
Koninginnedag -> Koningsdag
Another change is that the iconic Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) holiday will now change to Koningsdag (King’s Day). The day will also change: it will be moved from April 30 (Queen Juliana’s birthday) to April 27 (Willem-Alexander’s birthday).
The holiday was first observed on 31 August 1885 as Princessedag (Princess’s Day), the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina. After she became Queen, the holiday was renamed to Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). Following the accession of Wilhelmina’s daughter Queen Juliana in 1948, the holiday was moved to her birthday – 30 April. Her daughter, Beatrix decided not to change the day after she ascended the throne in 1980, to honour her.
Although the Netherlands has a Crown and other Regalia, there has never been a coronation as such; instead, an inauguration ceremony is held.
The Monarch is seated on a Throne where she takes the formal oath to uphold the Kingdom’s constitution, while opposite him the Crown, the Orb and Sceptre are placed on cushions surrounding a copy of the Dutch Constitution.
Once the Monarch takes the oath, the members of the Staten Generall take an oath of loyalty to the new Sovereign. The ceremony is always held in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, as the Dutch Constitution requires.
Heads of State will not attend the ceremony as the protocol dictates the newly crowned Monarch must be the first to visit their countries, after which they can pay a visit back. However, most heirs to European Thrones are expected to attend the inauguration ceremony. There will also be two notable absentees: Jorge Zorreguieta and Maria del Carmen Cerruti Carricart. Princess Maxima has already called Prime Minister Rutte to inform him that her parents decided not to attend the ceremony.
The decision was likely made to avoid overshadowing the inauguration with the controversy surrounding Jorge Zorreguieta’s time as a cabinet minister during Videla’s regime. For the same reason, Zorreguieta refrained from attending his daughter’s wedding to Willem-Alexander.
The Line of Succession
Yet another change will occur in the Line of the Succession to the Dutch Throne.
Currently, the line of the succession consists of the following people:
- Prince Willem-Alexander (Queen Beatrix’s eldest son and heir)
- Princess Catharina-Amalia (Prince Willem-Alexander’s eldest child and heir)
- Princess Alexia (Prince Willem-Alexander’s second daughter)
- Princess Ariane (Prince Willem-Alexander’s third daughter)
- Prince Constantijn (Queen Beatrix’s second son and heir)
- Countess Eloise (Prince Constantijn’s elder daughter)
- Count Claus-Casimir (Prince Constantijn’s son)
- Countess Leonore (Prince Constantijn’s younger daughter)
- Princess Margriet (Queen Beatrix’s sister)
- Prince Maurits (Princess Margriet’s eldest son)
- Prince Bernhard (Princess Margriet’s younger son)
When Willem-Alexander ascends to the Throne, Prince Maurits and Prince Bernhard will automatically lose their succession rights. That is because succession to the Dutch Throne is determines by proximity of blood, and the succession line is limited only to three degrees of kinship from the current Monarch. Although Princess Margriet’s children will cease to be members of the Royal House (while of course remaining members of the Royal Family), they will retain all the styles and titles they currently have.
Any questions or things you want to clarify? Ask them away and I’ll do my best to answer them!