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Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne

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Queen Beatrix Queen Beatrix

(CNN) -- Queen Beatrix spent 33 years on the throne and will be succeeded by her son, the Prince of Orange, Prince Willem-Alexander.

She ascended to the throne when Queen Juliana abdicated on her 71st birthday, on April 30, 1980. Beatrix announced Monday that she will step aside on April 30.

Beatrix was born January 31, 1938, and when World War II reached Holland the family fled to London. Juliana, Beatrix and her sister Irene then moved to Ottawa, Canada.

Beatrix married German diplomat Claus von Amsberg on March 10, 1966, in Amsterdam. They have three sons, Willem-Alexander, born in 1967, Friso, born in 1968, and Constantijn, born in 1969.

Friso was injured in an avalanche at an Austrian ski resort last year.

She has eight grandchildren. Her husband died in 2002 aged 76.

He overcame early Dutch wariness -- in a country where the German occupation in WWII was still fresh in the national memory -- to become one of the most popular members of the Dutch royal family .

Under the Dutch Constitution the king or queen is head of state but politically neutral.

Beatrix, held weekly meetings with the prime minister and spoke regularly with high-ranking ministers and secretaries of state.

The head of state also signs all new acts of Parliament, and plays a role in the formation of new governments.

Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, was educated in Wales and Holland where he earned a history degree at Leiden University. He served in the Dutch Royal Navy from August 1985 to January 1987.

As Prince of Orange -- the title given to the person first in line to the Dutch throne ---- he has been interested in sustainability and innovation.

He has also been a member of the Dutch central bank supervisory board and regularly has represented the queen at international events.

Willem-Alexander has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1998.

He is married to Princess Máxima, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a degree in economics and has worked for HSBC and Deutsche Bank.

The couple, who met at a party, were engaged in March 2001 and they were married in February 2002.

The relationship -- like his mother's marriage -- sparked initial controversy when it emerged that Maxima's father had been a minister during the 1976-1983 Argentinean military dictatorship. He agreed to stay away from the wedding.

They have three daughters, Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane.

When Willem-Alexander becomes king, 9-year-old Catharina-Amalia will be next in line.

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