Dutch Queen struck by 'overwhelming' sympathy

In a farewell speech made last night, Queen Beatrix said she had been struck by "overwhelming expressions of heartfelt sympathy" since she announced her decision to retire.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (C), Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Crown Princess Maxima Credit: Reuters

She added, "With the abdication of my role as monarch, I'm fulfilled foremost with feelings of deep gratitude. Without your heartwarming and encouraging signs of affection, the burdens - which certainly there have also been - would have weighed very heavily."

"Now that my eldest son is taking on this beautiful and responsible task tomorrow, it is my dearest wish that the new royal couple feels supported by your loving trust. I am convinced that Willem-Alexander will commit himself with faithful devotion to everything a good king is indebted to do."

Read: Dutch Queen hands 'responsibility of our country to next generation'

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New Netherlands king takes over

Willem-Alexander becomes king of the Netherlands as his mother Beatrix abdicates.