THE Dutch monarchy is a highly respected and even venerated institution. This adulation stems from the devotion of the Royal family to its people, which often goes beyond the customary constitutional duties. That is why the Dutch people, wherever they may be, celebrate April 30, the official birthday of the reigning monarch, Queen Beatrix, with such joy and gusto. Exactly 13 years ago, the then Princess Beatrix was invested as Queen of The Netherlands at a special plenary session of both Houses of the States General, the Dutch parliament, held in the New Church in Amsterdam. Earlier in the day, her mother, Queen Juliana, who had been the Queen since 1948, signed the Act of Abdication, leaving the way open for her daughter to fulfil her destiny as Holland's monarch. Queen Beatrix has twice visited Hongkong in the past 30 years. In 1962, as Princess Beatrix, she undertook a long and arduous tour that took her from the Persian Gulf, across the Indian sub-continent to southeast and east Asia. She visited Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand, the Philippines and Hongkong. While in the territory, Princess Beatrix received the news that her grandmother, Princess Wilhelmina, had died on November 28. The princess had to interrupt her trip and return toThe Netherlands. But about eight years later, Princess Beatrix and her husband, Prince Claus, a former German diplomat, returned to Hongkong as part of a visit that took them to New York, Honolulu and Japan, where the royal couple visited Expo '70 in Osaka. As the current head of state of The Netherlands, Queen Beatrix not only travels overseas keeping abreast of international developments, but also receives visiting dignitaries and important officials. She also regularly receives, in audience, the heads of diplomatic missions based in, or accredited to, The Netherlands. Queen Beatrix's constitutional duties, however, are more complicated and wide-ranging than suggested by these international contacts she maintains. As head of state, the Queen follows developments in her own country, keeping in regular touch with her ministers, state secretaries, the vice-president of the Council of State, members of parliament and provincial officials at several levels. In this way, the Queen is regularly apprised of affairs of government and developments in her country and is well-positioned to judge issues and play a crucial role when it comes to forming new governments. One of her most important public appearances as head of state is when she delivers the speech from the throne at the annual opening of parliament on the third Tuesday in September. In that speech, she sets out the main thrust of the government's programme for the coming year. Aside from these constitutional duties, what endears Queen Beatrix to the people of the country is her interest and concern about the achievements and the everyday life of the Dutch. This commitment to the well-being of her people takes the Queen to all the provinces in the country. This, naturally, brings her face to face with a whole range of issues varying from agriculture and nature conservation to the problems confronting ethnic minorities. These visits, which bring her into contact with the people and bring issues into sharper focus, also provides her with an opportunity to engage actively in the concerns of the elderly, such as residential homes for the aged, and other larger social welfare matters. On June 28, 1965, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard announced the engagement of their daughter Princess Beatrix to German diplomat, Claus von Amsberg. But if one day the Princess hoped to succeed her mother, then another legal step was necessary. The Dutch constitution requires that all members of the ruling dynasty or their descendants who marry without the consent of parliament, shall be excluded from the succession. The parliament did, indeed, approve of the marriage. In November 1965, the lower house of Parliament passed the Bill of Consent. A month later, the upper house did the same, paving the way for Princess Beatrix to become Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.