Will any of Europe's other older royals step down?

Story highlights

  • Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands hands over the crown to her son
  • Older monarchs are on the thrones in Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium
  • Some analysts say the younger generation is best suited for the demands of modern monarchies

As royalty from different parts of the world converged on the Netherlands to watch the monarchy change hands, some of the guests there may have been thinking ahead to the day when they get the top job back home.

In Europe, most monarchs are getting old and have been on their thrones for years. Their offspring are grown up and are now waiting in the wings to take their respective crowns.

Britain's Prince Charles was in Amsterdam to watch Queen Beatrix hand over to her 46-year-old son Willem-Alexander. He was also in the Netherlands when Beatrix herself took the throne from her mother 33 years ago on Queen Juliana's abdication. Charles's new Dutch counterpart is Amalia, The Princess of Orange, who is nine.

Was Charles wondering when his turn would come? Perhaps, but that of course would involve the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. One thing is for sure -- his 61-year wait as heir to the throne won't end with the abdication of his mother.

To the British royals, the word "abdication" brings back painful memories of the 1936 crisis when King Edward VIII was forced to relinquish his throne so he could marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson and relinquished his throne. Queen Elizabeth will never abdicate. The other long-serving European Queen, Margrethe of Denmark also sees it as a job for life.

However, both Margrethe and Elizabeth are handing more responsibilities to their heirs. One option might be for them to appoint their sons Princes Regent which would mean they would be in charge of royal duties while their mothers kept the title.

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Crown princes and princesses across Europe look ready to take on the task of modern-day monarchy with all the burdens that some believe can only be carried by younger royals.

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In Spain, 75-year-old year old King Juan Carlos's popularity has waned. And that's led to suggestions, even among monarchists, that his heir, Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia take over the throne.

In Sweden, King Carl Gustaf is 67. He's been on the throne for 40 years and has recently been scandalized in the press. His heir, Crown Princess Victoria is married to Prince Daniel and has a baby daughter, Princess Estelle, as the next two generations there take shape.

And over in Norway, King Harald is in his mid-70s with an heir who will be 40 in July. Crown Prince Haakon is married to Princess Mette-Marit. The couple have had two children.

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All of these heirs also have something in common that makes them appealing to a modern, more relaxed generation. They have all married outside the aristocracy, making them more accessible and relevant to younger subjects.

But while the precedent of abdication has set in the Netherlands, it hasn't yet taken hold elsewhere. However, in an age when the pope resigns, don't be surprised if other older royals take some sort of cue from Beatrix.