Europe’s youngest monarch was sworn in on Tuesday, following the abdication of Holland’s Queen Beatrix in favour of “a new generation”. Hoards of orange-clad citizens flocked the Dutch capital to welcome King Willem-Alexander, who vowed to be a 21st century monarch.
Amsterdam’s streets were filled with celebrations and pageantry. The city was patriotically awash with orange, as citizens donned cheerful costumes and shops served orange-coloured food and gifts. Yesterday’s jubilant scenes were a stark contrast to the swearing in of Queen Beatrix thirty three years ago, when radical anarchists protested the monarch’s ascension. Over 10,000 police officers patrolled the capital, however, as an increased security measure following the tragic Boston bombings.
The 46-year-old King, who is the first male to rule the Netherlands since 1890, has raised hopes for the Dutch economy as the country suffers its third recession since 2009. Dutch unemployment has reached a high of 6.4%, despite being lower than the EU’s average of 10.9%. As a water-management specialist and an honorary member of the World Commission on Water, he is expected to bring useful expertise to the table, as much of the Netherlands is below sea level.
Analysts expect that the new King and his Argentinean-born wife will bring a less formal approach to the Dutch monarchy amid austerity and budget cuts. Willem-Alexander has already declared that he will not expect to be addressed as “Your Majesty”.
Before swearing his oath, Willem-Alexander addressed the nation’s economic woes, stating: “I take the throne at a time when many people in the kingdom feel vulnerable and insecure. Vulnerable in their jobs or their health; insecure about their income or their living environment.”
“We can no longer take it for granted that children will be better off than their parents,” he added. “Our strength is therefore not in isolation but by cooperating.”
The act of abdication was signed by the former Queen, who is now officially known as Princess Beatrix, in the Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Royal guests from 18 countries attended the ceremony, including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Over 25,000 are reported to have filled the square to cheer on the Royal Family as they appeared on the palace balcony to greet the crowds.
Princess Beatrix presented the new King before cheering crowds, as he thanked her for her years of service. “As king I want to encourage people to make the most of the opportunities they have. I will represent the kingdom with pride. I want to unite the Dutch, in times of happiness and in times of sadness,” he said.
As a symbol of the generational transition, Princess Beatrix departed from the balcony, leaving the new King to wave to his subjects with his wife and three daughters. His oldest daughter, nine-year-old Princess Catharina-Amalia, is now Princess of Orange and first in line to the throne.