Opinion: The end of an era?

POSTED: 11/7/11 4:52 PM

Speculation about the end of H.M. Queen Beatrix’s reign has been around for a long time, but her trip to the west triggered even more of it. Jan Hoedeman and Remco Meijer published an analysis in the Volkskrant last Saturday under the headline, If the omens do not deceive, Beatrix’s departure is near. But the journalists who met with Her Majesty at the end of her Caribbean tour yesterday morning encountered a monarch so full of energy and good spirits that it is hard to imagine that our queen will abdicate any time soon.
Still Hoedeman and Meijer’s analysis is worth reading. The first clue they present in their analysis stems from the visit to Bonaire, where prince Willem-Alexander took over after his mother had spoken with protestors. “I hope to be able to discuss the improvements with you during my next visit.”
It’s not what we’d call rock-solid proof, but it is at least an indication of what is about to happen sooner or later anyway. The Volkskrant reporters speak of the choreography of a departure, based on the pattern in the trips Queen Beatrix made during her tenure.
After she took over the throne in 1980, she started with state visits to three neighboring countries in 1981: Belgium, Luxemburg and West-Germany. The total of state visits now stands at 48. Next year Luxemburg is on the agenda once more and Germany received the Queen earlier this year. Belgium received a second visit already in 2006.
The queen’s visit to the west does not count as a state visit. It is a regional visit to a part of her own Kingdom. The Volkskrant journalists note that the queen loves the Caribbean islands very much and that she has made an effort to visit every five years.
Then they make a daring statement: everybody who was there experienced it like this: this was the visit of a Queen in her latter days.
Hoedeman and Meijer furthermore point to the activities of Willem-Alexander and Maxima, When Prince Claus’ disease was discovered in the eighties and worsened in the nineties, Willem-Alexander often assisted his mother. After Claus’s death in 2002, Willem-Alexander and Maxima who married in February of that year assisted the queen on a more structural basis. They built their experience with official state visits. When there were incoming state visits in the Netherlands, they were also always there.
Reviewing the state visits of the past eight years, the Volkskrant journalists conclude that the crown prince and his wife have settled in the job. For the important neighboring countries Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany, they go even one step further, stating: “They have been introduced as the new Royal couple.
Other factors that help Beatrix to announce her abdication, Hoedeman and Meijer wrote, are the restored calm surrounding Willem-Alexander and the equally died down storm about the head of state. The political discussion about the King’s constitutional role has concluded during the recent debate in the parliament: everything remains the same. Willem-Alexander knows what he has to do.
Hoedeman and Meijer wrote that the political instability due to the minority cabinet is not such a problem that inauguration would be irresponsible. People close to the queen are saying it, the journalists wrote, without naming names: in 2012 Queen Beatrix will announce her abdication.
The queen’s birthday will be celebrated next year in Rhenen and Veenendaal – the last places in a long series of celebrations. The intentions for a state visit to Luxemburg have been confirmed, but there is no date yet. After that visit, Hoedeman and Meijer wrote, there is room for the inauguration of King Willem IV.

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