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New Queen in a modest monarchy

May 2, 1980



As Queen Beatrix assumed the throne of the Netherlands this week it was ironic that the pomp and pageantry were exploited as a symbol of injustice by rioters demanding better housing. For the Dutch monarchy is of such a modest sort, on such a human scale, that it ought to be the last one to be tageted in this way, whatever the reasons for protest.

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Queen Juliana, whose abdication brought her daughter to the throne, won her subjects' hearts with a warm, bicyle-riding informality that evidently figured in the response to a recent poll that was almost 90 percent favorable to keeping the monarchy. The new Queen Beatrix is seen as more austere, but she and her husband, Prince Claus, have shown sympathy in the past for the very squatters now protesting. And their interest in third-world development suggests a concern for social and economic justice in a broad sense as well as a recognition of the dependence of European nations like the Netherlands on the resources of their former colonies.

The latter point was made at last year's 30th anniversary conference of NATO by another Hollander, Joseph Luns, NATO's secretary-general. Though the tiny Netherlands has long lost its overseas empire, its international voice continues to be heard, as in the eloquent appeal dr. Luns made at that conference fof maintaining and adjusting the West's defenses in a world where the Soviet Union has not similarly given up domination over its colonial dependencies.

With a fond farewell to Queen Juliana, we welcome Queen Beatrix to an international scene that needs the comprehension of change which she displays and the proven skill of her people in dealing with the globe beyond their borders.