Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced her abdication. Her stepping down clears the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, to become the nation's first king in more than a century.
The queen will abdicate on April 30 after 33 years as head of state. Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in a nationally televised speech, signaling an end to the reign of one of Europe's longest-serving monarchs.
The monarch, who turns 75 on Thursday, said that her birthday and the 200-year anniversary of the monarchy in 2013 were "the reason for me to step down."
Queen Beatrix said it was time "to place the responsibility of the country in the hands of a new generation."
Beatrix's mother, Juliana, abdicated in 1980, allowing her daughter to assume the throne at age 42. The queen's stepping down will end more than 100 years of female reign on the Dutch throne. Willem-Alexander, 45, will be the first Dutch king since Willem III, who led until his death in 1890.
mkg/dr (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)