Queen Beatrix
Pedro Famous Diaz  /  AP
Dutch Queen Beatrix, second right, greets the crowd while touring the streets of Oranjestad, Aruba, Tuesday. The Queen wrapped up her four-day visit to Aruba, the first official visit the monarch has made to the island since 2001. She will also visit other islands in the Netherlands Antilles.
updated 11/8/2006 3:20:59 PM ET 2006-11-08T20:20:59

ORANJESTAD, Aruba — Dutch Queen Beatrix toured a cosmetics factory, the central bank and several elementary schools during a four-day visit to Aruba, the first official visit the monarch has made to the island since 2001.

Traveling with the Dutch Minister of Royal Affairs, Atzo Nicolai, the 68-year-old queen rode in a cavalcade around the Caribbean island as people waved Dutch and Aruban flags along the roads.

On Tuesday, the last day of her visit, the queen observed the casting of the first coin to be printed with text in the local dialect of Papiamento — a Creole tongue with vocabulary drawn from Spanish, Portuguese and English — at the Central Bank of Aruba.

The royal's visit to the region follows last week's long-awaited agreement by the Dutch government and the Netherlands Antilles to grant autonomy to the Caribbean territories of Curacao and St. Maarten, and giving smaller islands in the group the status of Dutch municipalities.

The Netherlands Antilles — which includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten — has been a self-governing territory since 1954, deferring only the issues of foreign policy and defense to the Netherlands. Aruba was granted autonomy in 1986.

Queen Beatrix made no public comments on the status change during her visit to Aruba, officials said.

Over the next week, the monarch will visit all the islands in the Netherlands Antilles. She traveled to Bonaire on Wednesday and is scheduled to fly to St. Maarten by the weekend.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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