Queen Beatrix, Princess Margriet combine celebrations
Dutch Queen Beatrix is due to celebrate her 70th birthday in Amsterdam on Friday.
Beatrix’s official birthday is on Thursday, but she has decided to mark the event on Friday during a joint celebration with her sister Princess Margriet, who recently turned 65.
Some 150 young musicians and dancers are due to perform a variety of music and dance styles at the Royal Carre Theatre in Amsterdam. The event will be broadcast live on Dutch public television.
Beatrix was born in the Netherlands in 1938. When the Germans occupied in 1940, the royal family fled the country. Beatrix spent her early childhood in Canada.
In 1966, Beatrix married German diplomat Claus von Amsberg. His nationality and background in the Hitler Youth and as a soldier in the army of Nazi Germany initially caused uproar in the Netherlands.
Anti-German sentiments, resulting from the Nazi occupation of the country, remained strong in the Netherlands until several decades after World War II.
Claus’ personal background and the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s that resulted in record-high unemployment numbers made the royal family highly unpopular.
Particularly in Amsterdam, riots used to erupt when the queen paid a visit to the capital.
Beatrix and her late husband Claus had three sons, all of whom are married. Two of them are formal heirs to the throne.
The marriages of Beatrix’s three sons and her four nephews, the sons of her sister Margriet, changed the image of the Dutch royal house in the late 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century.
Of particular importance was the marriage in 2002 of Argentinian- born Maxima Zorreguietta to Beatrix’s eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
The daughter of Jorge Zorreguietta, a deputy minister in the government of Argentinian dictator Jorge Videla, initially caused a political controversy in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government requested that Maxima distance herself publicly from her father, who is believed to have been involved in the financing of the Argentinian junta during his term in the Videla regime, as well as in several disappearances of Argentinian nationals in the late 1970s.
Following intense negotiations between the royal couple, the Dutch government and Beatrix, it was decided that Maxima’s parents would not attend the wedding ceremony in the Netherlands.
However, since her marriage to the crown prince, Maxima appears to have won the hearts of the Dutch public. Her public performances have provided a major boost to the overall popularity of the royal house.
Maxima’s enormous popularity has caused wide speculation in the Netherlands about Beatrix’s expected abdication to make way for her son Willem-Alexander and his Argentinian wife.
Beatrix herself ascended to the throne on April 30, 1980, when her mother Juliana stepped down as queen on her 71st birthday.
But last summer the communication department of the Dutch royal house released a statement saying that Beatrix has no intention of abdicating "in the next several years."
31 January 2008