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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 10:58 GMT
Beloved Dutch queen mother dies
Juliana, then Dutch queen, visiting Zeeland in 1953 (Dutch royal family photo)
Juliana, here visiting flood-hit Zeeland in 1953, impressed Dutch subjects with her common touch
The former Dutch queen, Juliana, has died at the age of 94 after a prolonged period of illness.

Juliana, the mother of the reigning Queen Beatrix, ruled for 32 years until her abdication in 1980.

She oversaw a period of dramatic social change, taking in the end of empire and the evolution of her country into a leading voice for global liberalism.

She had been unwell for some time and had not participated in public life for a number of years.

She died in her sleep at 0550 local time (0450 GMT) in the Soestdijk palace where she had lived most of her life.

'Bicycling monarch'

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague says Princess Juliana endeared herself to her nation during her long life.

Known as the "bicycling monarch", she shopped at the local supermarket and sent her children to state school.

Her popularity prompted the Labour Party to drop its demand to turn the country into a republic, our correspondent says.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende made a televised address after the death was announced and said the nation had lost a mother.

Princess Juliana gave up the title of queen when she abdicated in favour of her daughter Beatrix in 1980.

But the Dutch continue to celebrate their national holiday on Juliana's birthday, 30 April, which remains known as Queen's Day.

The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"She was known as the people's queen"

Timeline: The Netherlands
05 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Dutch prince renounces throne
10 Oct 03  |  Europe

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