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Queen Beatrix Abdicates Dutch Throne, Son Willem-Alexander Becomes King

Queen Maxima, Queen Beatrix, King Willem-Alexander of Netherlands RVD/Jeroen Van Der Meyde/Getty Images

All hail Queen Beatrix? Well, not anymore.

Willem-Alexander became the first Dutch king in 123 years today after his mother formally abdicated the throne following a successful 33-year reign.

Tens of thousands of people waited outside the royal palace as the oldest ruling Dutch monarch signed the act of abdication, which officially changed her title from queen to princess. 

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The 75-year-old royal is the third successive Dutch queen to abdicate, and her son is the first to hold the title of king since Willem III died in 1890. 

In addition to her son filling her royal footsteps, Willem-Alexander's Argentine-born wife became Queen Maxima today, while their eldest of three daughters became Princess of Orange and first in line to the throne.

"Dear mother, today you relinquished the throne. Thirty-three years moving and inspiring years. We are intensely, intensely grateful to you," the 46-year-old new king reportedly said, addressing the throng of spectators in Dam Square. 

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Beatrix announced in January she would step down to make way for a younger generation.

Royal guests from 18 countries attended the ceremony, including Britain's Prince Charles, who was also in attendance when Beatrix was crowned queen in 1980. 

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