THE HAGUE — Dutch Queen Beatrix said Monday that she will abdicate on April 30 after 33 years as head of state, clearing the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, to become the nation’s first king in more than a century.
The announcement, in a nationally televised speech, signaled an end to the reign of one of Europe’s longest-serving monarchs, whose time on the throne was marked by tumultuous shifts in Dutch society and, more recently, by personal tragedy.
The queen’s abdication from the largely ceremonial role had been expected, but it is sure to bring an outpouring of sentimental and patriotic feelings among the Dutch, most of whom adore Beatrix.
‘‘Responsibility for our country must now lie in the hands of a new generation,’’ Beatrix said in the speech a few days before she turns 75.
Observers believe she remained on the throne for so long in part because of unrest in Dutch society as the country struggled to assimilate more immigrants, mainly Muslims from North Africa.
Beatrix was also thought to be giving time for her son to enjoy fatherhood before becoming King Willem-Alexander; he has three young daughters.
The abdication also comes at a time of trial for Beatrix. A year ago the second of her three sons, Prince Friso, was left in a coma after being engulfed by an avalanche while skiing in Austria.