Queen Beatrix expressed her "deep gratitude" to
the people of the Netherlands for their support in a farewell address
Monday evening, on the eve of her abdication.
The queen said that her oldest son, 46-year-old Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, was "well prepared" to become monarch and would "act without regard to personal preference."
"The unifying power shown by previous generations was my inspiration," Beatrix said in her televised speech to the nation.
She mentioned several of her female predecessors on the throne since 1890, including her mother, Queen Juliana, who abdicated in 1980, and grandmother Queen Wilhelmina.
Beatrix said she had "shared both joy and national pride" with her people as well as their "sorrow and anxiety."
The queen mentioned her late husband, German-born Prince Claus, who died in 2002, saying "history may indeed conclude that my choice of husband was the best decision I ever made." She credited him with helping their three sons "to be alert to developments in society and to suffering and need in the world."
Beatrix, 75, announced in January her intention to stand down after 33 years on the throne. Willem-Alexander's investiture is Tuesday.
The taped speech was broadcast while the queen hosted a dinner at the Rijksmuseum, the art gallery housing masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer that was reopened this month after a 10-year renovation. Beatrix was accompanied by Willem-Alexander and his Argentinian-born wife, Maxima.
The queen said in her speech that Maxima "with her warm heart ... will play a special role."
Among dignitaries at the banquet were royals from 18 countries including Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, the duchess of Cornwall, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and royals from Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Jordan, Monaco, Norway, Qatar, Spain, Sweden and Thailand.
As soon as the queen signs the Abdication Act in the Royal Palace on Tuesday, Willem-Alexander will become king. He will shortly after take an oath to observe the constitution and serve the Dutch at a ceremony in the adjacent Nieuwe Kerk.
Fans of the royal family started to assemble earlier Monday in front of the Royal Palace on the eve of the ceremony.
Last-minute preparations for the events continued Monday with finishing touches on flower arrangements at Nieuwe Kerk. The crown prince and Maxima - along with their three daughters - took part in a dress rehearsal at the church.
The ceremony includes swearing an oath of allegiance to the constitution, as monarchs in the Netherlands are not crowned. Members from both houses of parliament were to attend the ceremony. The crown and other royal regalia will be displayed on a table.
The city's airspace was closed Monday, and an estimated 12,500 police officers were on duty. Bomb-sniffing dogs were deployed as part of the security arrangements, amid the presence of scores of royals and other dignitaries from around the world.
After Queen Beatrix signs her abdication, she and the new king will give short speeches from a balcony overlooking the Dam Square at the Royal Palace.
Among the first tourists to secure a good vantage spot on the square were Astrubal Medina and his wife, Reina Reyes. They said they visited royal events all over the world, but "Maxima and Willem-Alexander are really special, they are like our own family."
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