Tens of thousands of royal enthusiasts and well-wishers packed into Amsterdam's central square on Tuesday (April 30) to watch Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicate and hand over to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, who became the first King of the Netherlands in over 120 years.

An orange-clad crowd cheered and waved Dutch flags outside the Royal Palace in Amsterdam as the ceremonies and abdication and automatic succession were broadcast live on a giant screen.

Wearing a sober purple dress, Beatrix, Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima, who wore a pale rose-coloured dress with a shimmery skirt and large bow on her left shoulder, stepped on the balcony of the palace to greet the crowd, after the abdication document was signed.

"I am happy and grateful to present you your new king, King Willem-Alexander", Beatrix said from the balcony, holding back a few tears.

"Dear mother, today you resigned from your reign, 33 moving and inspiring years for which we are deeply grateful," the new King replied.

After that his three daughters, all dressed in yellow, stepped out on to the balcony, drawing even bigger cheers from the crowd.

Willem-Alexander, a 46-year-old water management specialist, is expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy together with Maxima, a popular former investment banker from Argentina.

Beatrix chose to retire after 33 years in the role, following in the tradition of her mother and grandmother.

April 30, or Queen's day, is always a day for partying in the Netherlands. Many people took Monday off work and started celebrating in earnest from Monday evening with street bands and music.

Amsterdam has been awash with orange, the royal colour, for days. Houses were covered in bunting and flags and shop windows were stuffed with orange cakes, sweets, clothes and flowers.

Nearly a million people were expected to join the street party with dancing to bands and DJs, helping create a carnival atmosphere.

The royals are broadly popular, with 78 percent of Dutch in favour of the monarchy up from 74 percent a year ago, according to an Ipsos poll.

But they have been stripped of their political influence, and no longer appoint the mediator who conducts exploratory talks when forming government coalitions.

Presented by Adam Justice