I quit! C’est fini. Adios.

No no, I don’t mean me, but I’m talking about big royalty news, well at least it is huge news on these shores. The abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

And she has decided to abdicate in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange.

This naturally stirs up discussions about heirs, reigns and monarchy in general. Some don’t understand why she’d willingly and voluntarily give up the Crown. She is still healthy, both physically and mentally. In theory she still has many years ahead of her where she could have reigned as Queen. However, when looking at the past 10 years or so, one can understand why she would take such a step. Her 75th Birthday is this Friday Thursday, and this year marks the 200th year the Netherlands is a monarchy. Her greatest support was her late husband, Prince Claus, who died in 2002. And last year her second son, Prince Friso, ended up in a coma after being caught in an avalanche during their annual skiing holiday in Lech. After so many personal & public heartaches – the unfortunate attempt to assassinate the royal family in 2009 – many were already wondering when she’d announce her abdication. It came as a surprise she continued to reign, even after the accident of Friso. Still, it comes as a great surprise to all, considering she had just finished 2 state visits to Brunei & Singapore in the first 2 weeks of the year!

I find it interesting to see the discussion between those who think being an monarch is until death, and those who think she has made a wise choice to make way for a new generation. Some have even claimed Beatrix chose the coward’s way by abdicating. She was getting tired of all the protocol, political turmoil etc etc. While others see it as an enlightened way to rule, perhaps it is time for new blood who does know their way around our ever-changing society.

Now I know Elizabeth would never, never ever even consider abdication, perish the thought!! She will rule until her very last breath, for she sees it as her lifelong duty. I applaud her dedication, I do, however I can also understand knowing when to step down. But I guess the latter also fits the Dutch attitude towards work & duty. They tend to work to live, not to live to work. Loyalty, dedication and duty are indeed wonderful things, but the Dutch understand why even a Queen would want to enjoy her golden years in some more peace and quiet. It’s not like she’ll disappear completely, she will be very much present in the background, advising her son, showing him the reins and offer lots of moral support for quite a burden.

All of this does lead to a very interesting question to me. Do I live to work, or work to live? And am I defined by my work, or is my work defined by who I am? I can answer the first one much easier, I definitely work to live. However the second question is a tough one.

So are you defined by your work? Or is your work defined by who you are?

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11 thoughts on “I quit! C’est fini. Adios.

    • What a coincidence, I just opened the same article. 🙂

      Liz also has a very different approach to her ‘job.’ She does see it her lifelong duty, something she was born into and was meant to do until the day she dies. Something her grandmother instilled into her from an early age.

      • Sure, no question. But it’s her choice to continue seeing it that way, as her duty. Though the obstacles to emotional change at her age are non-negligible, she could in fact decide that she’d done enough. The law of England, in contrast, is not her choice. What I like about the point, I guess, is that w/r/t work we’re all caught up in rather complex webs of preference, duty, and the constraints created by the world in which we live.

        • True on Liz, she does have a choice, whether she ever would is a whole different question.
          Yes, duty, loyalty and dedication are admirable traits, but not always the best advisers. And yet these are also the things that can hinder us most when we actively seek change.

          Now my life never was set in stone like the heir apparent, but yet I find myself meandering through a lot of webs of preference, as you so aptly put. But then I find myself wondering, can I form my web or did I get caught?

  1. I used to work to live, because other options were not acceptable. Now, I am retired and writing fiction. So, I am not defined by my work; within myself, I never was, despite how others needed to perceive me. Now what I do is defined by who I am, even if the path is difficult. This is better, as long as I am able to do it.

    • Welcome Leigh, and thank you for your comment. You make a good point, sometimes there is no other option but to do what is deemed necessary, not what one would like. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to make such choices, but alas, reality never plays along.

  2. I thought this was accepted practice in the Dutch royal family. Didn’t the queen’s mother and grandmother abdicate?

    • Welcome Fairlie. Yes, you are correct. Both queens before her abdicated as well. It may be accepted in the Netherlands, but there are still many who are dumbfounded for why she would want to if she’s still able to reign. I’d say the Dutch have reacted rather pragmatically since the official announcement, but it is quite interesting to see how the British are viewing this.

  3. I had wrote a comment yesterday, but some how I wiped it out and it was late so here is another go.
    I was surprised to see Queen Beatrix abdicate now. I thought that she would give Prince Williem-Alexander more time to spend with his young daughters. But given that she will be 75 tomorrow and that Prince Frisco is still in a coma and also 200 years of the Dutch crown it seems a right time. I always knew that she would abdicate. Given the past history of the dutch crown.
    I also know that Queen Elizabeth will never abdicate, it would most likely feel like a failure to her. She has been brought up with her duty as a strong belief that she must do. She was also a young girl when her Uncle Edward abdicated and her dad became King George 6. It would have been a big change in there lives. It has also been said that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother never forgave Edward for not doing his duty and putting George the 6 on the throne when he was not prepared to become king. This most likely has stayed with Queen Elizabeth her long life. When she turn 21 she gave a speech that she committed her life long or short to her duty and she recommitted that again last year.
    Sorry so long but I do love history and british history the best.

    • Welcome Katie! Oh yes, dear ol’ Liz is most definitely shaped by the actions of her uncle, and the effects it had on her, her parents and consequential her upbringing. I also know her Grandmother, Mary of Teck, wanted to make sure she grew up to view being royalty as something honourable, serious and is a position in service of the country, ergo needs to be treated with reverence. Mary saw how frivolous Edward had become, and she wanted to make sure this would not happen with Liz & Margaret.

      Bea’s abdication doesn’t come as a big surprise, but indeed I think most thought she’d give her son and his young family a bit more time. WA certainly did not enjoy it when his mother became Queen, and his family were thrust into the public eye. He became quite a handful as he grew up.

      Oh no, by all means share the love. I too love history, we do need to understand where we came from to see where we’re going.

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