Dutch Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands smiles during the traditional Queens Day celebrations on April 30, 2012 in Rhenen, Netherlands. Parties and concerts are held across the the Netherlands as members of the Dutch royal family oversee festivities. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Dutch Queen Beatrix announced Monday that she will abdicate on April 30 after 33 years as head of state, clearing the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, to become the nation's first king in more than a century.
PHOTOS: Queen Beatrix abdicates throne
The announcement, in a nationally televised speech, signaled an end to the reign of one of Europe's longest-serving monarchs, whose time on the throne was marked by tumultuous shifts in Dutch society and, more recently, by personal tragedy.
The queen's abdication from the largely ceremonial role had been widely expected, but it is sure to bring an outpouring of sentimental and patriotic feelings among the Dutch, most of whom adore Beatrix. In everyday conversation, many of her subjects refer to her simply by the nickname "Bea."
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