By Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch republicans will launch a campaign on Tuesday to cut the salary of the next monarch to a fraction of the 850,000 euros ($1.11 million) that they say Queen Beatrix now receives.
Campaigners for the New Republican Fellowship pressure group are collecting signatures to force a parliamentary debate on a motion that would cut the new king's salary to 150,000 euros, bringing it into line with the prime minister's wages.
Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, will succeed his mother as head of state when she abdicates on April 30 after 33 years on the throne.
Beatrix is popular and the republican movement is very much a minority. But republicans believe that the 75-year-old queen's tax-free salary is a weak point for monarchists.
"We are asked to live more simply and save money, but the queen isn't part of that deal, she does what she likes," said Hans Maessen, head of the campaign. "She is very rich, she earns a lot of money, she doesn't pay taxes, she's laughing at us while we pay."
Mired in recession, the Netherlands is undergoing a bout of austerity alongside many other European countries in a bid to meet the European Union's budget deficit target of 3 percent.
Campaigners said Beatrix's salary exceeds the 199,000-euro salary of the German president, the 150,000 euros earned by the King of Spain and dwarfs the $400,000 earned by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Republican campaigners would need 40,000 signatures to force a debate in the Dutch parliament.
So far just 16 mostly left-of-centre members of the 150-seat parliament have said they will refuse to swear an oath to their new king at his investiture on April 30 in Amsterdam.
The queen's press office was not immediately available to comment. ($1 = 0.7635 euros)
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt, editing by Paul Casciato)