Queen Beatrix almost oldest Dutch monarch

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Queen Beatrix, who is currently visiting the Caribbean, will become the oldest-ever reigning monarch of the Netherlands tomorrow.

Up to now, King Willem III had been the oldest Dutch head of state. He was still monarch when, after a prolonged period of illness, he died on 23 November 1890 at the age of 73 years and 277 days. None of the hereditary heads of state - then known as 'stadhouders' - who ruled the country before the Netherlands became a kingdom in 1814, reached such an old age while in office.

Queen Juliana turned 71 on the day she handed over the throne to her then 42-year-old daughter, Beatrix, in 1980. She had been queen for 32 years and abdicated because “her strength was diminishing”. On 30 April 2012, Queen Beatrix will also have been on the throne for 32 years.

Queen Beatrix has now ended her two-day visit to Curacao by unveiling a plaque commemorating her first visit there since the former Netherlands Antilles' island gained autonomous status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The political union of the islands known as the Netherlands Antilles was formally dissolved on 10 October 2010. The islands of Curacao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom, just as Aruba has been since 1986. The other islands are now special municipalities of the Netherlands, which  - together with Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten form the larger Kingdom of the Netherlands.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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