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Willem-Alexander becomes new Dutch king

May 1, 2013 • Entertainment


People dance in the street in Amsterdam as they celebrate the coronation of King Willem-Alexander, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Millions of Dutch people dressed in orange flocked to celebrations around the Netherlands Tuesday in honor of a once-in-a-generation milestone for the country’s ruling House of Orange-Nassau: after a 33-year reign, Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Millions of Dutch people dressed in orange flocked to celebrations around the Netherlands Tuesday in honor of a once-in-a-generation milestone for the country’s ruling House of Orange-Nassau: after a 33-year reign, Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander.

At 46, King Willem-Alexander is the youngest monarch in Europe and the first Dutch king in 123 years, since Willem III died in 1890. Like Beatrix before him, Willem-Alexander has assumed the throne at a time of social strains and economic malaise.

Although the Dutch monarchy is largely ceremonial, he immediately staked out a course to preserve its relevance in the 21st century.

“I want to establish ties, make connections and exemplify what unites us, the Dutch people,” the freshly minted king said at a nationally televised investiture ceremony in Amsterdam’s 600-year-old New Church, held before the combined houses of Dutch parliament.

“As king, I can strengthen the bond of mutual trust between the people and their government, maintain our democracy and serve the public interest.”

Hopes for the new monarch are high.

For most of the 2000s, the country was locked in an intense national debate over the perceived failure of Muslim immigrants, mostly from North Africa, to integrate. In response, politicians curtailed many of the famed Dutch tolerance policies.

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