As Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands ends her 33-year reign and abdicates from her throne in favour of her son Willem-Alexander a look at the monarchies of Europe and why the Netherlands approach differs so greatly.
- The Kingdom of the Netherlands
Princess Beatrix became the Queen of the Netherlands in 1980 becoming the sixth monarch of the House of Orange on the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana, who had reigned for 31 years. Queen Juliana had inherited the crown in 1948 when her own mother Queen Wilhelmina abdicated after 50 years on the throne.
Prince Willem-Alexander will be the Netherlands' first king since Willem III died in 1890.
- The Kingdom of Belgium
The constitutional Belgium monarchy is a relatively new house and was chosen as a form of government when the country became independent in 1830.
The current king Albert II - officially known as the King of Belgians - is a descendant of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg who became Leopold I.
- The Kindgom of Denmark
The constitutional Danish Monarchy can be traced back more than 1,000 years. Queen Margrethe II, count kings like Gorm the Old (deceased 958) and Harald Bluetooth (deceased 987) among her ancestors.
Queen Margrethe works as an illustrator, set designer for the theatre and textile artist. Along with the Prince Consort, the Queen has translated French literary works into Danish and vice versa.
In 1967, the Queen married the French diplomat Comte Henri de Laborde de Monpezat and succeeded her father on his death in 1972.
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Despite England and Scotland having monarchs since the 400s the kingdoms did not unite until 1603 following the Accession of King James VI of Scotland (I of England) to the English Throne, a single monarch reigned in the United Kingdom.
The current Queen, Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952 and in 2012 celebrated 60 years on the throne.
The British monarchy was rocked in 1930s when Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Wallace Simpson an American divorcee. His renouncement of the crown left the country divided and moved the line succession to his brother who became George VI and so on the current Queen Elizabeth II.
- The Principality Liechtenstein
Prince Hans-Adam, a successful banker, became the head of state on the death of his father, Prince Franz Josef, in 1989.
In 2004 Prince Hans-Adam handed over the executive running of the principality to his son, Crown Prince Alois, while remaining head of state, after his own father had handed executive power to him 1984.
In 2003 the royal family won sweeping new powers in a constitutional referendum, which gave them the power to veto parliamentary decisions and sack the government.
- The Grand Duchy Luxembourg
Luxembourg has been a grand duchy since 15th March 1815, when it was elevated from a duchy. The current Grand Duke Henri was crowned in 2000 and fulfills a constitutional role.
- The Principality Monaco
Monaco has been an independent land since 1162 when the King of Germany, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, recognised the Republic of Genoa from Porto Venere to Monaco.
Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, Sovereign Prince of Monaco is the son of Prince Rainier II and Princess Grace (the Hollywood star Grace Kelly). The Prince succeeded his father after his death in 2005 and in married Olympic swimmer Charlene Lynette Wittstock
- The Kingdom of Norway
The Norwegian monarchy has roots going back more than a thousand years to Harald Fairhair, considered the first Norwegian king, who united Norway around 890.
The current monarch King Harald V was the youngest of three children but was the only son and heir to Crown Prince Olav and Swedish Princess Märtha.
He became the first Norweigian born king in 567-years when he was crowned in 1991. There was some controversy when Harald married a commoner Sonja Haraldsen from Vinderen in Oslo.
- The Kingdom of Spain
King Juan Carlos became the crowned monarch of Spain in 1975 after the death of Franco
The last year has been one of the most turbulent of his reign after his daughter Cristina was named by Magistrates as a suspect in an investigation into alleged corruption and tax fraud by Iñaki Urdangarin, her husband.
That followed on the heels of the 75-year-old King's elephant hunt trip in Botswana while his country struggled with recession and record high unemployment.
- The Kingdom of Sweden
King Carl XVI Gustaf was crowned in 1973 at the age of 27, succeeding his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf, as his father Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf died in a plane crash in 1947.
The Bernadotte dynasty stretches back to the 1700s although Sweden has had a monarchy for around 1,00 years.