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Dutch ready to party as new king takes the oath

WILLEM-ALEXANDER has become the first king of the Netherlands since 1890.

He ascended a throne largely stripped of political power, but still invested with enormous symbolic significance for the Dutch.

At his investiture yesterday in Amsterdam's 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk, the 46-year-old monarch swore to uphold the Dutch constitution and stressed the need for unity at a time of economic crisis.

"I take office in a period when many in the kingdom feel vulnerable or uncertain. Vulnerable in their job or in their health, uncertain about their income or their immediate environment."

Willem-Alexander – a water management specialist, a useful expertise in a country where much of the land is below sea level – and his wife, Maxima, a former investment banker from Argentina, are expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy.

April 30, or Queen's Day, has always been an occasion for partying in Holland.

Many people took Monday off and started celebrating in earnest from Monday evening. Nearly a million people were expected at street parties in the capital last night.