The full speech is available here.
"As you all know, in a few days I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am thankful that I have been Granted the opportunity to do so in good health. At the end of this year marks the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, an occasion That Ushered in a new era in our history. The Fact That these two special events coincide led me to decide to relinquish the throne this year. It seems to me to be an 'appropriate time to take this step, All which I have been considering for some time.
I have always Regarded it as an exceptional privilege to have been able to dedicate a large part of my life to the service of our country and to have been able to discharge the duties of the monarchy as I was called to do. For many years Prince Claus was a great support to me in this task.
Throughout this time I have derived great satisfaction from fulfilling Such a role. It is inspiring to feel close to people, to sympathise with them in times of sorrow and to share in times of joy and national pride. That has also been my experience in the Caribbean parts of our Kingdom, where I have always Encountered great warmth and hospitality. So I am not abdicating Because my duties are becoming too burden-some, but because I am Convinced That it's time for the responsibility for our country to pass to a new generation. On 30 April this year, with the Utmost confidence, I shall hand over the duties of the monarchy to my son, the Prince of Orange. He and Princess Máxima are fully prepared for Their future role. They will serve our country with dedication, faithfully uphold the Constitution and use their many talents to discharge the duties of the monarchy in Their Own distinctive way.
I feel fortified by the knowledge That making way for my successor does not mean that I am taking my leave of you all. I hope still to have plenty of opportunities to meet many of you. I am deeply grateful to you for the trust you have placed in me That Throughout the many rewarding years I have had the privilege of being your Queen."
For those of us from the UK, abdicating seems almost unheard of but it's not at all uncommon for the Dutch monarchy who do not see the role of king or queen as one for life. No doubt a tremendous amount of consideration went into this decision. The family experienced a terrible tragedy last year when Queen Beatrix's middle son, Prince Johan Friso, was buried in an avalanche while skiing, and he is still in a coma. The Queen is expected to move to Drakensteyn Castle at the end of April and will return to her previous title of Princess.
Beatrix pictured outside Drakensteyn Castle which she acquired and renovated in 1959.
Willem-Aleander will become the first king since Willem III, who reigned until his death in 1890. Willem-Alexander is relatively young at 45 and is a trained pilot. His wife, the beautiful Maxima is an Argentinian and worked as an investment banker. Her father was an agricultural minister.
The couple work very well together and bring years of experience and vitality to the role. I anticipate they will do a terrific job. Below we see the couple with their children.