"Queen Beatrix is the sixth monarch from the House of Orange-Nassau, which has ruled the Netherlands since the early 19th Century.
"In recent decades it has become the tradition for the monarch to abdicate. Queen Beatrix's mother Juliana resigned the throne in 1980 on her 70th birthday, and her grandmother Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 at the age of 68.
"Queen Beatrix will be 75 on Thursday."
Reuters reports that in the announcement, the queen said her 45-year-old son "was ready for the role."
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