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End of an era

I was having a coffee with a Scottish friend of mine this afternoon, and he suddenly turned to me and asked me how I, as a Dutchwoman, felt about the Queen's announcing her imminent abdication. Which I knew nothing about, not having read a newspaper and more importantly, having missed her unscheduled television appearance the night before - as having taken a look at the listings, I had decided that there was nothing on.

So yeah. Two days before her 75th birthday, the Queen's decided it's time to hand over "to a new generation", and she will sign the Act of Abdication on April 30th, our last ever Queen's Day, and the 33rd anniversary of her investiture (Dutch monarchs are never crowned, as a crowning would constitute a religious ceremony, and we are a secular state). Her eldest son, the Prince of Orange, will immediately succeed her on the throne, and has let it be known that he intends to do so as King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands. Which is one of two indications that he means to follow his own course: from the moment of his birth in 1967 till last night, it was generally assumed that if and when he came to the throne, he would reign as Willem IV. The other is that Queen's Day, which has been held on April 30th since 1948 (and was originally his grandmother's birthday) will be moved to his own birthday (April 27th) and undergo a name change to King's Day, for obvious reasons.

A King...how quaint that sounds. The Netherlands has been ruled by Queens for the last 123 years, and all three have done a sterling job. Our three 19th-century Kings were less successful: Willem I couldn't hold on to Belgium, Willem II promptly died of a coniption fit after having a Constitution and a constitutional monarchy forced on him, which Willem III tried his best to ignore, behaving like a boor to his ministers and government. Maybe that's why the Prince has chosen to go by the name he was given at birth rather than by a regnal number...


Jan. 30th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
I heard about the abdication on the radio yesterday! I had never known that was the way the Dutch monarchy handled the succession; it seems an eminently sensible way to do so.
Jan. 30th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
Wilhelmina hit on the idea in 1948. It's been a great success since, but there's no rules to prevent our next monarch to remain in office till they die, if that's what they want to do.


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