x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dutch expats in UAE not surprised by news of Queen Beatrix's abdication

Dutch expatriates are unsurprised by the news that Queen Beatrix has abdicated the throne in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

DUBAI // Dutch expatriates are unsurprised by the news that Queen Beatrix has abdicated the throne in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

The decades-long tradition makes way for the "new generation", said Liante Payne, a Dutch mum of two in Abu Dhabi.

"In Holland it's a seamless succession which is really good. It's what happened with the Queen's mother and her mother before that. It's not like countries like the UK where you have to wait for the monarch to pass away."

The Queen, who turns 75 this week, will make way for what is a popular heir in the 45-year-old prince, the first king in more than a century. Married to Princess Maxima, they already have the nation's hearts. "He's very popular and his wife is even more popular," explained Mrs Payne.

The handover and coronation will take place on April 30, known as Queen's Day, the birthday of the former queen, Juliana, who abdicated in 1980 but lived until 2004.

"People in Holland are not happy to see her go but they are happy to see the tradition is still in place and they are making way for the new generation now."

Hink Huisman, a company identity consultant, said royalist feeling in Holland is high. "It's no less than the UK," he said. He agreed that feelings for the Queen run deep, saying she is "very loved". "This was very apparent when she got married and engaged and on her coronation back in 1980," he said.

According to figures released this month by the state news agency, WAM, there are around 5,000 Dutch nationals in the UAE and 300 Dutch companies. Bilateral trade between the Netherlands and UAE is currently valued at Dh6bn a year and Etihad recently launched direct flights to Amsterdam.

Yesterday #Beatrix was trending on Twitter with many remarking on the legacy left by her monarchy. One person tweeted: "Thank you your Majesty for all those years of being not only an excellent Queen but also a warm & caring mother to the Dutch nation #Beatrix".

In her abdication speech, the queen said: "I am not stepping down because the tasks of the function are too great, but out of the conviction that the responsibilities of our country should be passed on to a new generation. It is with the greatest confidence that on April 30 of this year I will pass on the kingship to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Maxima are entirely ready for their future tasks."

mswan@thenational.ae