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Orange invades Amsterdam for Dutch enthronement

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Thousands of party-goers wearing orange suits, wigs and sunglasses, some of them drunk, flooded Amsterdam on Tuesday set on catching a glimpse of their first king in over 120 years, Willem-Alexander.

By 8:00 am (0600 GMT) more than a thousand people were already massed on Amsterdam's central Dam Square in front of the royal palace where Queen Beatrix is to sign her abdication, surrounded by a heavy police presence.

"Today is a day in which we get together as the Dutch and celebrate and the monarchy is of course a part of it," Nick van Boor, 25 told AFP, pushing his way through thronged streets to the square.

"We really hope we can catch a glimpse of them," he added, dressed in an all-orange outfit, using a Dutch flag as a cape and his hair dyed bright orange.

"This is fantastic!" said Anne Boonjer, 60 as she walked down to the Dam, recalling the riots that accompanied Queen Beatrix's investiture in 1980 because of a housing crisis.

"I was here that day and it was truly awful, with bombs being thrown," she said.

Over 10,000 police are patrolling the event, and Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan warned ahead of the celebrations that police should be careful not to overreact.

The ever-mercantile Dutch sold merchandise including brightly orange coloured T-shirts emblazoned with playing cards featuring the faces of Willem-Alexander and his Argentine-born wife Maxima: "King and Queen."

Amsterdam's many immigrant workers also got in on the act, with a bicycle taxi driver from Georgia who only identified himself as "Bojuk" saying: "Today's going to be good for business."

Some streets of the Dutch capital were littered with the detritus from celebrations of Queen's Night on Monday, a sea of plastic glasses and crushed beer cans and puddles of vomit.

Nico Silberie, 25, from Aruba, a Caribbean nation that forms part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, was tired but unbowed.

"We have partied through the night and now we're heading to Amsterdam," he said.

"This enthronement is the most beautiful and entertaining event," said Alex Hamstel, 41, wearing an orange suit and matching cowboy hat.

Some sought to grab a few hours sleep before once more picking up the party that will take over Amsterdam's picturesque streets and canals throughout the day and into Tuesday night.

"I'm really drunk, I've got a headache, I'm going home," said Maarten, 32, trying to walk in the opposite direction to the swelling river of people.

"If I want to go out again tonight, I'm going to have to get some rest," he told AFP.

At Amsterdam's central train station, a man was busy emptying bins, wearing an inflatable orange crown on his head.

"Yeah, well, I'm working, that's life, but that's no reason not to be in a good mood," the worker said.

"This is a party for everyone and I'm going to make the most of it," he said, declining to give his name.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130430/orange-invades-amsterdam-dutch-enthronement