"Responsibility for our country must now lie in the hands of a new generation," Queen Beatrix said in the speech delivered from her Huis ten Bosch palace, she will celebrate her 75th birthday on Wednesday.
"I am deeply grateful for the great faith you have shown in me in the many years that I could be your Queen," she added.
The queen's abdication from the largely ceremonial role had been widely expected, but it is sure to bring an outpouring of sentimental and patriotic feelings among the Dutch, most of whom adore Beatrix. In everyday conversation, many of her subjects refer to her simply by the nickname "Bea."
More top news
For the first time in her reign, The Queen sat next to the runway at London Fashion Week as models paraded up and down.
Mostly dry and chilly
The Labour leader said newspapers were going "a little bit James Bond" over the "increasingly wild and entirely false" claims.