On 30 April the Netherlands is celebrating Queen’s Day. This year, Queen Beatrix will be making walkabouts in provincial Dutch towns as usual. This year, it’s the turn of Rhenen and Veenendaal. But the question on everyone’s lips is: how long will she continue on the throne?
By Dutch royalty expert Ben Kolster
The question of when she will abdicate in favour of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander comes up regularly both on her real birthday and on Queen’s Day. Dutch law says the sovereign alone decides how and when the abdication should take place.There would seem to be no point to speculation, but some Dutch royalty watchers like to think they know a bit more than most people.
What might be the reasons for Queen Beatrix to choose a particular moment to hand over the post of head of state to her son? The state of her physical and mental health perhaps, but she appears to be in fine shape. Insiders point out that she still enjoys her ‘job’.
What about family circumstances? It’s well known that her son and his wife would like to enjoy their young family as long as possible. Her memories of happy years with her late husband, Prince Claus, and her children at Drakensteyn Castle is said to play a major role in her deliberations.
What about the political and social developments taking place in the country? She is said to be worried by the disintegration of the once so stable political middle ground in The Hague, and by the growth of populist parties on both the right and left.
She isn’t allowed to comment on these developments in public, but she sometimes manages to include a subtle suggestion of her dissatisfaction in her annual Christmas messages.
Now that the Rutte government has fallen, the economic crisis shows no sign of abating and new elections are scheduled for early in September, she will be keen to deploy all her experience once again to help keep the country on the rails.
No doubt, the queen will be hoping that the Netherlands will get itself back into calmer waters so she can hand over her mission to her son. She knows only too well that it can’t be too long before a new generation of the House of Orange ascends the throne.
Next week, we’ll celebrate another Queen’s Day, but there can’t be many more to go under the present sovereign.