Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands has abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander, who becomes the first Dutch king in more than 120 years.
Beatrix ended her 33-year reign in a ceremony in the Mozes Hall of Amsterdam's royal palace. The 75-year-old blinked back tears as she signed the "instrument of abdication," becoming simply Princess Beatrix, Reuters wrote.
Beatrix, who signaled her intent to step aside in January, said her son, 46, was "ready in every way" to become a king.
About 25,000 well wishers reportedly turned out in Amsterdam for the changing of the monarch, wearing orange and partying into the night.
While the Dutch monarchy has lost any political influence it might have had, opinion surveys show it's still a highly popular institution, with "almost four-fifths of Dutch people in favor of retaining the institution," according to The New York Times.
Willem-Alexander has reportedly undergone a remarkable transformation from a party-loving, immature young man — not an obvious match for the throne — to a serious family man much-loved by the Dutch. According to an opinion poll conducted Monday, 69 percent of the Dutch trust the king.
His popularity skyrocketed after an interview two weeks ago in which he said he wanted to be a traditional 21st century king, but not a "protocol fetishist." His people don't even need to worry about addressing him as "your majesty," according to the Telegraph.
After the abdication ceremony, King Willem-Alexander appeared on the balcony of the palace with his wife, Queen Maxima, his three daughters, and his mother.
Much of his new-found popularity is apparently linked to his marriage in 2002 to Argentinian Maxima Zorreguieta.
While Maxima's father, an official of the Argentine junta in the 1970s, was not allowed to attend his daughter's wedding in the Netherlands, the glamorous Maxima herself has endeared herself to the Dutch, learning the language fluently.
The couple has three daughters, Catharina-Amalia, 9 — now Princess of Orange ,as heir to the throne — Alexia, 7, and Ariane, 5, and all are adored by the Dutch.
According to CNN, Willem-Alexander told the crowd that he was "grateful for your confidence and support" as he started his reign.