AMSTERDAM - 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.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander is given three cheers by guests and his wife Queen Maxima inside the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during his inauguration Tuesday. Around a million people are expected to descend on the Dutch capital for a huge street party to celebrate the first new Dutch monarch in 33 years.
"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.