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The new Dutch King Willem-Alexander has been sworn in at a ceremony in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk.
Willem Alexander becomes the first king of the Netherlands in more than 120 years, ascending a throne largely stripped of political power but still invested with huge symbolic significance.
With his wife Queen Maxima by his side, the King took the oath of allegiance. Outside the church, a massive crowd had gathered to follow the ceremony on giant screens.
Like her mother and grandmother before her, Beatrix, who is 75, chose to abdicate after a 33-year reign, saying her son was ready and that it was time for the throne to be held by “a new generation”.
Beatrix is a very popular Queen with an estimated 8 out of 10 Dutch people in favour of maintaining the monarchy.
The abdication takes place on Queen’s Day, a national holiday in The Netherlands, giving the Dutch an opportunity to gather and celebrate in what are rather morose economic times with the country back in recession.
After her abdication, Queen Beatrix, the new King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima, appeared on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam to an enthusiastic orange-clad crowd of well-wishers.
Nearly a million people are estimated to have converged on Amsterdam for the event, including more than 10,000 police officers deployed in a massive security operation.
The new King and Queen were joined by their three daughters, the eldest of whom, nine-year-old Catharina-Amalia, becomes Princess of Orange and heir to the throne.