At 19.00 on Monday 28 January 2013 Her Majesty the Queen announced that she is to abdicate and that the Prince of Orange, her eldest son, will succeed her. The abdication and the investiture of the new King will take place in Amsterdam on 30 April 2013.
On 30 April the Queen will sign the instrument of abdication in the Royal Palace, Amsterdam. This is the constitutional procedure by which she formally relinquishes the throne. Once the instrument is signed, in other words before the investiture ceremony, the Prince of Orange will become King under constitutional law. He will be King Willem-Alexander. The new King and the former Queen will then give a short address from the balcony of the Palace. The new King and Queen and their three young daughters will then make a public appearance on the balcony.
The abdications in 1948 and 1980 also took place in Amsterdam. In 1840, the abdication took place at Het Loo Palace.
Following the appearance on the balcony, the investiture of the new King will take place on the same day in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. The ceremony takes the form of a joint session of the two Houses of the States General, similar to the state opening of Parliament in the Hall of Knights in The Hague, at which the monarch delivers the Speech from the Throne. Under the Constitution, the President of the Senate presides over the joint session and thus acts as the host.
During the investiture the new King is confirmed in office and swears to be faithful to the Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office. In return, the members of the two Houses swear or affirm that they will uphold the doctrine that the ministers, and not the King, are responsible for acts of governmentand that they will uphold the rights of the monarchy. The government and the President of the Senate issue invitations to the investiture to the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Cabinet, ministers of state, representatives of foreign governments, ambassadors, and members of other Royal Houses who are not reigning heads of state. The list of invitees will be released shortly before the investiture.
At the ceremony the King will wear a tail coat with white tieunder the royal mantle.
In addition to the Dutch constitution, the credence table beside the throne bears three regalia, symbols of the dignity and authority of the monarch. These are the crown (symbolising sovereignty and dignity), the sceptre (authority) and the orb (the territory of the Kingdom). The other two regalia - the sword of state (symbolising power) and the standard of the kingdom bearing the coat of arms of the Netherlands - are carried by two senior military officers. These regalia have been in use since the investiture of King Willem II in 1840.
After she has signed the instrument of abdication, the former Queen will have the title of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau. She will be addressed as Your Royal Highness.
From that moment on, the new monarch will be referred to as His Majesty the King. His official title will be His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, etc., etc., etc. He will be addressed as Your Majesty.
As the King's wife, Princess Máxima will be referred to as Her Majesty the Queen. Her official title, like that of the wives of Kings Willem I, Willem II and Willem III, will be Her Majesty Queen Máxima, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau. She will be addressed as Your Majesty.
This does not mean that she will become the head of state or have the same powers and responsibilities as the monarch. It is a courtesy title for the wife of the King.
Immediately after the abdication, Princess Catharina-Amalia, the eldest daughter of the new King and Queen, will become Her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange, in accordance with section 7 of the Membership of the Royal House Act.
The titles and names of the other members of the Royal House will not change after the abdication. What will change, however, is the membership of the Royal House. From that moment on, under the Membership of the Royal House Act, the children of Princess Margriet and Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven and the children of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien will cease to be members of the Royal House, which will then comprise:
- the King, the Queen and their children
- Princess Beatrix
- Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien
- Princess Margriet and Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven.
In addition, the Constitution stipulates that the title to the throne is reserved to blood relatives of the monarch up to the third degree of consanguinity as defined in Dutch law. This means that Prince Maurits and Prince Bernhard will no longer be in the line of succession to the throne.
When the Prince of Orange becomes King, the line of succession will start with his children: the Princess of Orange, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane. Next in line will be Prince Constantijn, then his children and finally Princess Margriet.
Royal standard and royal coat of arms
From his investiture onwards, the new King will fly the royal standard and use the royal coat of arms. The royal standard is a square orange flag, divided into four quarters by a cross of Nassau blue, with in the centre the arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands surmounted by a crown and surrounded by the insignia of the Military Order of William. Each quarter displays a blue bugle, which originated in the arms of the principality of Orange. Queen Wilhelmina adopted this standard in 1908, since when it has been flown by the head of state. It flies above the palaces where the monarch resides and works when he is in the country.
The royal coat of arms was adopted by King Willem I in 1815 and has not changed significantly since 1907. The royal coat of arms is the same as the coat of arms of the Kingdom. It depicts a crowned lion rampant against a background of blue strewn with golden billets supported by two lions. A ribbon beneath the shield bears the motto 'Je maintiendrai' (I will maintain). The coat of arms will also remain the same.
Noordeinde Palace in The Hague will continue to be used as the monarch's place of work. Following the investiture, the family of His Majesty the King will initially continue to live at Eikenhorst in Wassenaar. At an appropriate moment they will move to Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague. In the interim Huis ten Bosch Palace will be used for official receptions and meetings. In due course Princess Beatrix will take up residence at Drakensteyn Castle in Lage Vuursche.
Duties and positions
The everyday duties of the monarch involve performing the tasks laid down in the Constitution as well as other matters. In some cases the King will be accompanied by Queen Máxima. Examples include administering the oath of office to members of parliament and ambassadors, representing the Netherlands abroad on state and official visits, signing Acts of Parliament and delivering the Speech from the Throne at the state opening of Parliament, and holding regular discussions with the Prime Minister and other members of the government.
Within a year of ascending the throne, King Willem-Alexander, accompanied by Queen Máxima, will visit all the Dutch provinces and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. They will also continue with activities such as working visits.
In due time, Princess Beatrix and the King will decide as to the continuation of their honorary posts and their patronage of organisations. In principle, Queen Máxima will retain her honorary posts and her positions as patron.
When a new monarch ascends the throne, it is customary for certain Officers of the Royal Household to resign their posts, since the new monarch has a constitutional right to organise his own Household (article 41 of the Constitution).The Officers in question include the Grand Master of the Royal Household, the Chief of the Military Household, the Principal Secretary, the Treasurer, the Master of Ceremonies, the Marshal of the Court, the Comptroller of the Royal Palaces, the Crown Equerry, the Director of the Royal Archives and the Director of Human Resources.