Beatrix turns 74, is oldest ruling Dutch queen

THE HAGUE — Dutch Queen Beatrix celebrated her 74th birthday Tuesday as the country’s oldest ruling monarch, and royal-watchers said she looks unlikely to hand over the reigns anytime soon.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 31 Jan 2012, 9:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:14 PM

The energetic Beatrix — who earlier this month returned from a visit to Abu Dhabi and Oman — spent the day reviewing gendarmes charged with her safety at the Royal Palace in The Hague, said the website of the royal family.

“Queen Beatrix turns 74 today. Never before has there been a ruling monarch that has reached this age, making her the oldest ruler of the Netherlands,” historian and royal expert Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen told AFP.

The queen is now also among only some 2,000 Dutch who remain employed at her age, the country’s Central Statistic Bureau said.

Despite increasing speculation that she may retire and hand the throne to her oldest son, the crown prince Willem-Alexander, royal watcher Van Ditzhuyzen said it was unlikely that she would do so soon.

“There is no reason for her to retire,” she said. “She still likes her job immensely. Only she knows when she will step down.”

Born on January 31, 1938 as the first child of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhardt, Beatrix ascended the throne in 1980, aged 42.

It was during here recent Middle East trip that Queen “Trix”, as she is colloquially known, came under fire from the extreme right for wearing a headscarf over her traditional hat while visiting two mosques.

Pictures of the queen sporting a blue headscarf at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi prompted politician Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) to accuse her in parliament of “legitimising female oppression”.

But the queen, who wore a red headscarf at Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, dismissed this in a rare direct comment to reporters as “nonsense”.

Van Ditzhuyzen said that wearing the headscarves “has done nothing to diminish her popularity,” estimating that three-quarters of Dutch people remain in support of the monarchy.

Maria Grever, history lecturer at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, warned however that the Dutch royals need to be more aware of their public image.

Grever said that Dutch criticism “fits into that by the populist right on the international elite which remained unaffected by a globalising economy.”

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