TODAY | January 29, 2013
>>> back now at 7:47 with the netherlands popular queen beatrice , abdicating the throne to pass it on to her son. michelle kosinski has the story.
>> reporter: the last abdication was king edward in the 1930s . in the netherlands, stepping aside for one's child is much more common but it still surprised people for this much-loved monarch. queen beatrice and the royal family have been known and loved as friendly, down to earth, normal. after 33 years on the throne, three days from her 75th birthday, queen bea, as she's called, addressed her country.
>> translator: responsibility must now lie in the hands of the new generation.
>> reporter: that would be her son, william alexander , once known as a party boy , whose father wasn't invited to his wedding. princess maxima cried at her wedding and has been popular with the rest of the family ever since. in april, he will become the first dutch king in more than a century. her second son gave up his claim to the throne when he married a woman who once had a relationship with a drug lord. he worked as a banker and businessman in london until a tragic skiing accident, avalanche last year left him in a coma. queen beatrice has been flying to london , sometimes every weekend, to see him, another emotional upheaval after the death of her husband in 2002 . both beatrice's mother and grandmother gave up their reign so their daughters could serve. and abdications, voluntary or not, have happened throughout history. to become a catholic in the 1600s , a big scandal. in modern times incorporate edward of england to marry a twice divorced american, one who will not abdicate, it is often said, queen elizabeth , only two years away to becoming the longest reigning monarch in british history .
>> whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.
>> the reality is that things do change so to say those things will never happen, i would say to them never say never.
>> reporter: prince charles now is the longest waiting heir to the british throne and could be waiting a long time more. for queen beatrice , it was just the thing to do at the right time. this abdication has raised questions again about queen elizabeth 's future. can someone still be head of state when they're, say, 100 years old? prince charles recently described himself as impatient and says he hopes to live long enough to do all he wants to do. savannah?
>> michelle kosinski in london . now