Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced that she will abdicate on April 30 after 33 years as head of state.
Her abdication will clear the way for her elder son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, to become the nation's first king in more than a century.
The announcement, in a nationally televised speech, signalled an end to the reign of one of Europe's longest-serving monarchs, whose time on the throne was marked by tumultuous shifts in Dutch society and, more recently, by personal tragedy.
The queen's abdication from the largely ceremonial role had been widely expected, but it is sure to bring an outpouring of sentimental and patriotic feelings among the Dutch, most of whom adore Beatrix.
In everyday conversation, many of her subjects refer to her simply by the nickname "Bea".