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The Netherlands has its first king in over a century

May 1, 2013

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands ended her 33-year reign as monarch April 30, 2013 by abdicating the throne in favor of her 46-year-old son, the newly elevated  King Willem-Alexander. He is the first male monarch the nation has had on the throne since 1890, when King Willem II died.  Willem-Alexander is now the youngest crowned head in Europe.

A crowd of 25,000 supporter gathered across the street from the royal palace to watch the signing in ceremony that transferred the monarchy from the Queen to her son on a giant television. Visibly moved after signing the act of abdication, the 75-year-old Princess Beatrix joined the new King and his wife, Queen-consort Maxima, in appearing before the orange bedecked crowds on the palace balcony, before heading for the enthronement ceremony in Nieuwe Kerk. Dutch royalty are not crowned, as is the more common custom among European monarchies, because church and royalty are legally separate entities in the Netherlands. Instead, the King was sworn before a joint session of the houses of parliament in a deconsecrated church.

A less relevant monarchy
The scene on the last day of April was very different from the one Beatrix encountered when she first ascended the throne in 1980, reports Time Magazine.  Protesters overran the streets during the ceremony reportedly chanting "Geen woning, geen kroning" - no accommodation, no coronation - to demand access to affordable housing. 

In 2013 the outlook on the monarchy is brighter - Time reports approximately 75 percent of the Dutch population considers themselves supporters of the institution - despite the fact that it has become entirely symbolic since Beatrix first took the throne. In 2012, parliament voted to remove the Queen's last  role in national politics - appointing representatives to help with the formation of coalitions after elections.

Some opposition
Some republicans - those in the Netherlands who support the dissolution of the monarchy -  complained that elaborate nationwide celebration was wasteful given the difficult economic situation the country is currently facing.

In his remarks to his people immediately after assuming the throne, King Willem-Alexander addressed the tough times that citizens are dealing with. 

"I take office in a period when many in the kingdom feel vulnerable or uncertain. Vulnerable in their job or in their health, uncertain about their income or their immediate environment," the King said, according to Sky News. "We can no longer take it for granted that children will be better off than their parents ... Our strength is therefore not in isolation but by cooperating."

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