Beatrix retires (abdicates) but Elizabeth dare not

Prince Willem-Alexander is the host on veteran...

Prince Willem-Alexander

The retirement age in the Netherlands is 65 years and the intention to increase this to 67 has already been tabled. Royals of course are exempt from such “regulations”. Queen Beatrix will be 75 on Thursday this week. Just as her mother Queen Juliana abdicated in her favour at the age of 71 on 30th April 1980 , Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard will abdicate in favour of her son on April 30th this year. Even Juliana came to the throne with the abdication of her mother Queen Wilhelmina on 6th September 1948.

Independent: The Dutch head of state, Queen Beatrix, is to abdicate in favour of her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander, after a 33-year reign marked by controversy and even civil disobedience.

Beatrix, who is 75 on Thursday, announced in a national television address this evening that she would step down on 30 April, enabling her son, 45, to become the first Dutch king for more than a century. She has ruled since 1980 following the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana.

“I am not abdicating because this office is too much of a burden, but out of conviction that the responsibility for our nation should now rest in the hands of a new generation,” she said. “I am deeply grateful for the great faith you have shown in me in the many years that I could be your Queen.”

While the Dutch have established a tradition of abdication while the successor is still of “reasonable” age, the British precedent is for abdication only when royal scandals have become publicly unacceptable and not for any consideration of the age of the heir. The Royals just don’t have the numbers to establish a trade-union presence so, in Britain Charles cannot expect any support from this quarter. Moreover his scandals as heir have been sufficiently sordid that it could be considered that he has already fulfilled the conditions – in advance – for an “abdication”. But of course the law of succession would put him on the throne if his mother abdicated. His son William could not succeed Elizabeth directly without a special Act of Parliament to disinherit Charles.

Moreover Charles will be 65 this year but he does seem to be more relaxed though even more bizarre in his views. Elizabeth will be 87 this year and her mother lived to be over 101. Charles probably still harbours hopes of becoming King and making Camilla his Queen but even if Elizabeth felt like retiring – she probably does not dare to do so.

Of course in the event of his succeeding to the throne, Charles could always do the right thing and abdicate before he was crowned!

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