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Today, at 10 am California time, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands took to the Dutch airwaves to announce that she will be stepping down as Queen effective April 30.

Unlike, say, the United Kingdom – where every monarch in the modern era (except one) has held the throne until death – abdication is almost the norm for the Netherlands. Beatrix’s mother Queen Juliana abdicated in 1980, and Juliana’s mother Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948. In fact, the last Dutch monarch to die while still on the throne was King William III (Wilhelmina’s father) in 1890.

There is some speculation that beyond the reasons Beatrix gave for her abdication (her age and the opportunity for her son to begin his reign in an anniversary year) is the fact that Beatrix has been making many trips to London, where her second son Prince Friso is still in grave condition (though doctors say he has progressed to a state of “minimal consciousness”). Stepping down from the throne would allow her to spend more time with Friso’s family.

Beatrix’s son, Willem-Alexander, currently Prince of Orange, will be “inaugurated” on April 30, which also happens to be the national holiday Queen’s Day, Queen Juliana’s birthday, and the anniversary of Beatrix’s accession to the throne. Willem-Alexander will be the first Dutch King since William III’s death, ending 123 years of female rule in the Netherlands. (As of right now, however, Willem-Alexander only has daughters. His eldest, Princess Catherina-Amalia, will take the title Princess of Orange upon her father’s accession.)

I have to say, I really love Beatrix. She reminds me a little of my grandmother, and of all the monarchs I follow, she seems to be game for almost anything and seems to enjoy her job the most.

Video courtesy YouTube. (That’s Beatrix in the blue, escorted by the young girl in the massive pink top hat. Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Máxima, are following behind.)

After her abdication, Beatrix will retake her title as a Princess of the Netherlands, so I’m sure she’ll still be around to a degree, but I will miss seeing her all over the place. Especially when she wears hats like this:

Photo by Jonas. (CC BY-NC-ND)

Here’s wishing Her Majesty best of luck in her upcoming retirement.