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Who is Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands?

Today, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands turns 81-years-old. So we are going to have a little look at who she is and what has happened in her life so far.

Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard was born in 1938 in Soestdijk Palace in Baarn, the Netherlands as the eldest child of the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and her husband, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Princess Beatrix was soon joined by three sisters, Princesses Irene, Margriet and Christina. When Beatrix was ten-years-old, her mother became Queen of the Netherlands, and therefore Princess Beatrix became Heir Presumptive.

Princess Beatrix in 1938. Photo: © RVD

The young sisters did not have a carefree childhood, however, and were forced to leave their country to be educated in Canada during World War II. After the war, Princess Beatrix returned home and completed a degree in law in 1961.

Princess Beatrix, Prince Claus and their children in 1978. Photo: © RVD

In 1965, Beatrix became engaged to a man called Claus Von Amsberg. Though the pair married and were together until his death in 2002, the match was not popular at first and caused a lot of upset due to Claus being a member of the Hitler youth in his earlier years. The couple eventually came to be loved by the Dutch people and went on to have three sons in the years following their marriage: Prince (later King) Willem-Alexander (b. 1967), Prince Friso (1968–2013), and Prince Constantijn (b. 1969).

They also had eight grandchildren: Princesses Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane (through King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima), Countesses Luana and Zaria (through Prince Friso and Princess Mabel), and Countesses Eloise and Leonore and Count Claus-Casimir (through Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien).

Princess Beatrix with all of her grandchildren in 2017. © RVD Jeroen van der Meyde

By 1980 Queen Juliana had abdicated, making Beatrix the Queen of the Netherlands. At this point, the family moved into Huis ten Bosch Palace which is located in the Hague. Queen Beatrix reigned for thirty-three years as Queen and oversaw huge changes in her own country and the Dutch overseas territories. She is well known for her charitable work and is fondly remembered as a monarch.

Between 2002 and 2004 Queen Beatrix lost her husband, mother and father, and in 2009 she survived an attack which had been aimed at her family which sadly killed seven people. Tragedy struck again in Lech, Austria, in 2012, when her son, Prince Friso was buried under an avalanche. He died a year later from his injuries at home in the Netherlands. It was understandable when in 2013, Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her eldest son on 30 April – exactly 33 years after she ascended the throne.

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Beatrix after the announcement of abdication by Beatrix. Photo: Floris Looijesteijn (CC by 2.0) via Flickr

After a difficult decade, Beatrix could now return to holding the title of Princess and could hand over the country to a new generation. Since abdicating, Princess Beatrix still carries out occasional royal duties but now has the opportunity to retire in peace to a small moated castle.

Princess Beatrix was succeeded by her son Willem-Alexander in 2013 on the day she officially signed away her claim to the monarchy. She is the third Dutch monarch in a row to abdicate from the throne.