Amsterdam: The Netherlands` Queen Beatrix thanked her people on Monday and urged them to support her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, in a final address before she abdicates and he takes over as king.
Beatrix, 75, is to sign the papers enacting the once-in-a-generation change of royal titles tomorrow morning, the central moment in several days of festivities that are already underway.
"Now that my oldest son is to take over this fine and responsible job tomorrow, it is my deep wish that the new royal couple will feel themselves supported by your loving trust," the popular monarch said in a nationally televised address. Willem-Alexander`s Argentine-born wife Princess Maxima will be queen.
"I am convinced that Willem-Alexander will apply himself with true devotion for everything a good king is obliged to do."
Beatrix is hosting nobility from around Europe and beyond this evening for a dinner at the newly renovated national museum, the Rijksmuseum. Guests will dine in front of Rembrandt van Rijn`s masterpiece, the Night Watch.
Earlier in the day, the streets of Amsterdam began flooding with orange in honor of the ruling House of Oranje-Nassau, as government and noble guests prepared for the ceremonies, and the people of the country got ready for a huge party.
In the historic city center, vendors hawked orange t-shirts, hats and feather boas. Trams flew orange flags, and Dutch flags, as did many of the boats motoring through the city`s ancient canals.
Shopkeepers hung orange streamers, set out orange flower displays and rolled in countless kegs of beer.
Meanwhile, city workers finished cleaning the streets, removing unwanted bicycles and setting up temporary urinals, many of them made of bright orange plastic.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told foreign journalists from more than 60 countries last evening that the week`s events involve an "unprecedented logistical and security operation" that was organised in just three months. Beatrix announced her intention to abdicate in January.
More than a million people are expected in Amsterdam tomorrow, with 10,000 uniformed police, 3,000 plainclothes officers and an untold number of civil servants assisting in the logistics.
The airspace above Amsterdam was closed today for three days. Dutch police swept Dam square for bombs, with assistance from German agents with sniffer dogs.