In a recent poll of Dutch citizens, 70% want Crown Prince Willem-Alexander to succeed his mother, Queen Beatrix, as King in the next three years. Unlike in the United Kingdom where sovereigns reign until their deaths, abdication has been a tradition in the Dutch royal house. Both his great-grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, and grandmother Queen Juliana, abdicated in favour of their successor.
Should Queen Beatrix do so, Prince Willem-Alexander will become the first King of The Netherlands in over 100 years. The last was King Willem III, who died in 1890 and was suceeded by his daughter Princess Willhemna. The Princess was 10 when her father died, so her mother Queen Emma acted as Regent until she came of age.
In the 20th and so far the 21st century, The Netherlands has been ruled by women. When Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948, Queen Juliana took the throne. After 32 years, she abdicated and Queen Beatrix suceeded in 1980. When Prince Willem-Alexander either abdicates or reigns until his death, The Netherlands of the mid to latter 21st century will once again be ruled by a woman, when his daughter Princess Catharina-Amalia succeeds. The young princess owes her position as heir to the 1983 change in the succession laws, allowing for full lineal primogeniture, where the eldest child becomes heir regardless of sex.
It's easy to understand why people would want a change. Currently Prince Willem-Alexander's wife, Princess Máxima, is the most popular member of the Dutch royal family, followed by himself. Queen Beatrix ranks third. A young family with three beautiful children, fills the need for glamour, which seems to be an important pre-requisite for todays European royal families.
Because of this, later in the 21st century, if the Dutch still want a monarchy, we may once again see a poll, this time in favour of Catharina-Amalia succeeding her father.
© Marilyn Braun 2007
Photos courtesy of the Official Dutch Royal House Website.
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