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Queen Beatrix of Netherlands to Abdicate Throne

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Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands, leaves the "Dutch Design - Huis van Oranje" exhibition at Oranienbaum Castle on April 25, 2012 in Oranienbaum, near Dessau, Germany.

Three decades after beginning her reign over the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix is set to abdicate the Dutch throne in favor of her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. The 74-year-old monarch announced her decision in a nationally televised speech from her Huis ten Bosch palace on Monday, Jan. 28, just three days before her 75th birthday.

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"I am not stepping down because the tasks of the function are too great, but out of the conviction that the responsibilities of our country should be passed on to a new generation," the queen said in her remarks. "It is with the greatest confidence that on April 30 of this year, I will pass on the kingship to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Maxima are entirely ready for their future tasks."

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Willem-Alexander, 45, will be the Netherlands' first king since Willem III, who died in 1890. He and his wife, who hails from Argentina, have three young children together. Queen Beatrix also has two other sons, Prince Friso, 44, and Prince Constantijn, 43, with her late husband, Prince Claus. Prince Friso is currently in a coma following a February 2012 skiing accident.

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Beatrix took over the Dutch throne from her mother in 1980, making her one of Europe's longest-serving monarchs. She is beloved among the Dutch, many of whom refer to her by the nickname "Bea." Addressing her loyal subjects in her Jan. 28 announcement, she said: "I am deeply grateful for the great faith you have shown in me in the many years that I could be your Queen."

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