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Britain's Queen Elizabeth waves as she arrives for a service of thanksgiving at Saint Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

David Moir/Reuters

The sudden abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in favour of her son has raised questions about whether the British monarch will follow suit.

Queen Beatrix announced her departure Monday just before her 75th birthday on Thursday, clearing the way for her son, Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, to become king at age 45.

Queen Elizabeth II is 86 and her son, Prince Charles is 64. However, there is little in Britain to suggest the Queen will follow suit. She just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee last year, marking 60 years on the throne. There has been no indication she plans to step down.

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Queen Beatrix is also following tradition in her country, where Dutch queens have made a tradition of stepping aside for the next generation over the last century. She took the throne in 1980 at the age of 42 after the resignation of her mother, Queen Juliana, who was in deteriorating mental health. Her grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, also abdicated in 1948, after half a century on the throne.

But abdications remain rare in Britain.

"I'm not pretending to be an expert on the Royal Family, but I've spoken to enough politicians, officials and others who deal with HMQ and her household to make this prediction: Her Majesty will never voluntarily lay down the responsibilities of her position," wrote James Kirkup in a blog on the Daily Telegraph website. "It's her duty and she'll see it through to the end. Anything else would be a real shock."

Last June, British Prime Minister David Cameron also rejected speculation the Queen would step down and the crown would skip a generation to Prince Charles's son, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

"Both of those things are out of the question," Mr. Cameron told the BBC. "You get the sense that she will go on doing the amazing job she's been doing as long as she can."

Last June, during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, such speculation was squelched vigorously in the British media.

The Daily Mail quoted what it said was a source familiar with the Royals as saying: "The promise she made before God to dedicate her life to her country and to her people all those years ago is one that she takes as seriously today."

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"As far as she is concerned, that has been it," the source, identified as a member of the inner circle, added. "And that will be it, for the rest of her life."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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