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Millions of Dutch children don orange for 'King's Day'

More than a million Dutch children donned orange on Friday for a national sports day to officially start to celebrate the enthronement of Dutch king Willem-Alexander next week. The king-in-waiting and his Argentine wife, soon-to-be Queen Maxima, opened the "Koningsspelen" (King's Games) in the eastern city of Enschede. Around 1.3 million children are taking part in the national event -- including the royal couple's own three young daughters.

Dutch love their Argentine queen despite father's past

Maxima, the Argentine-born future queen of the Netherlands, has worked hard to win over Dutch hearts and is immensely popular despite her father's murky role in his country's military junta. As the wife of Crown Prince Willem Alexander, former investment banker Maxima Zorreguieta, 41, will on Tuesday become queen of the Dutch following Queen Beatrix's unexpected announcement in January that she will abdicate in favour of her son.

Orange fever as 21st-century king takes Dutch throne

The Netherlands' Willem-Alexander becomes Europe's youngest monarch Tuesday when Queen Beatrix abdicates and his country hails the avowedly 21st-century king with a massive orange-hued party. Willem-Alexander, 46 on Saturday, will be the first Dutch king since 1890 and the first of a new wave of European monarchs, whose ageing blue blood -- average age 71 -- is increasingly watered down.

Willem-Alexander: from 'Prince Pils' to Dutch king

Future Dutch king Willem-Alexander has undergone a remarkable transformation from his image as a boozing Casanova, ill-equipped for the throne, to a serious family man well-loved by his people. Due to take over from his mother, Queen Beatrix, when she abdicates on Tuesday, he has been preparing for his accession by taking on more and more duties in a bid to shake off his immature reputation. In an interview two weeks before the ceremony, Willem-Alexander, who turns 46 on Saturday, said he wanted to be a traditional 21st century king but will not be a "protocol fetishist."

Dutch enthronement: the key moments

Here are the key moments on Tuesday when Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander becomes king, succeeding his mother Queen Beatrix after 33 years on the throne. All times local (GMT+2). 10:00 am -- Queen Beatrix arrives to sign her abdication in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Willem-Alexander, who turns 46 on Saturday, and his Argentine-born wife Maxima witness the document. Beatrix reverts to her title of princess and her son becomes king.

The castle where Queen Beatrix hopes to live happily ever after

A tiny hamlet in the green heart of the Netherlands is preparing to roll out the orange carpet for its latest retiree, former Queen Beatrix, but some here wonder whether she'll be as happy as the woman who left 33 years ago. At first glance Lage Vuursche, population 250, looks like any other village in Het Gooi, an area between Hilversum and Utrecht famed for its wealthy inhabitants and natural forests.

Dutch crown prince tames paparazzi en route to throne

When the Netherlands' Willem-Alexander and Maxima next week become Europe's youngest king and queen, they will already have dealt with arguably the greatest challenges facing a 21st century monarch: taming the media. Unlike British royals, relentlessly stalked by the paparazzi many still blame for the 1997 death of princess Diana, the Dutch royal couple appear to have established the ground rules for their relationship with the press.

'Imbecilic' song for new Dutch king withdrawn after outcry

Dutch organisers were scrambling Sunday to find a new song to mark the upcoming enthronement of the Netherlands' new king after a serenade written especially for the inauguration attracted a storm of criticism for its "imbecilic" lyrics. "Dear compatriots, after having to block yet another insult on my Twitter account, I am now totally done," Dutch-British composer John Ewbank wrote on his Facebook page late Saturday.

Official song for new Dutch king pulled after protests

A Dutch-British composer who wrote a song officially chosen to celebrate the enthronement of the Netherlands' new king later this month has yanked the tune just days after its release following a storm of public criticism. "Dear compatriots, after having to block yet another insult on my Twitter account, I am now totally done," John Ewbank wrote on his Facebook page late Saturday.

Dutch crown prince vows less protocol as 21st century king

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander vowed Wednesday to be an approachable, 21st century monarch, insisting in a wide-ranging interview less than two weeks before becoming king that he is not a "protocol fetishist". Now still known as the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander, 45, will be enthroned on April 30 as the first Dutch king in more than a century, following in the footsteps of his mother, reigning Queen Beatrix, 75.
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