The Netherlands’ Willem-Alexander became Europe’s youngest monarch yesterday after his mother, queen Beatrix, abdicated and his country greeted their first king in more than 120 years with a massive orange-hued party.
Beatrix, 75, shed a tear before signing the act of abdication at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, witnessed by Willem-Alexander, 46, his Argentine-born Queen Maxima, 41, and members of the government.
A cry went up from the 25,000-strong crowd in the Dam, the main square opposite the palace where the signing was shown on giant screens.
Willem-Alexander, Maxima and Beatrix appeared in front of the crowds on the palace balcony, bedecked with roses and oranges before heading for the enthronement ceremony in the neighbouring Nieuwe Kerk.
Beatrix accompanied the king and queen’s three daughters to the church, including their eldest, now Princess of Orange Catharina-Amalia, nine..
A who’s who of royals-in-waiting, including Britain’s Prince Charles, Spain’s Prince Felipe and Japan’s Prince Naruhito and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, attended the ceremony.
Willem-Alexander is the first Dutch king since 1890 and the first of a new wave of relatively youthful European monarchs.
Although the monarchy is popular in The Netherlands, some question the cost of the royal household and republicans are seeking a reduction to the king’s tax-free salary of 825,000 euros .