Willem-Alexander and queen Beatrix wave to the crowds. Photo: Novum
Queen Beatrix’s decision to hand over the throne to her eldest son may have historical significance, but the actual process and ceremony is very simple.
On April 30, she will sign a document – the act of abdication – and Willem-Alexander automatically becomes king, although he still has to be inaugurated. His oldest daughter, Catharina-Amalia, will automatically become first in line to succeed him.
Willem-Alexander will be sworn in in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, but it will be a secular rather than a religious ceremony.
The inauguration takes the form of a meeting of the upper and lower houses of parliament – as set down in the constitution. This means all members of the lower and upper houses of parliament will be there as will a limited number of other guests.
The new king will then swear to be faithful to the constitution and to fulfil his role properly.
The crown, sceptre and orb – traditional signs of royalty – as well the kingdom’s sword, symbolizing his power, will be laid out in front of Willem-Alexander, as will a copy of the constitution. But the crown will not be placed on his head and is never worn.
After the king’s pledge, all the 225 members of the upper and lower houses of parliament will individually swear their allegiance to the new monarch.
The new king, who will be known as Willem-Alexander, will then appear on the balcony of the royal palace on Amsterdam’s Dam Square to meet his people.
Given the inauguration deliberately coincides with Queen’s Day, it is not yet clear what the implications for the city centre celebrations will be.
It is also the last time Queen’s Day will be celebrated on April 30. From 2014, the name will change to King’s Day and it will switch to Willem-Alexander’s birthday on April 27.