5 things you might not know about the Dutch royals

Having been living in the Netherlands for almost three years, of course, I know that this tulip land has a monarchy.

Posted by Thu Pham at Apr 27, 2018 03:55 PM

However, though I’m a history lover, my curiosity about the Dutch monarchy in the last two and a half years has never gone beyond that, and I just incidentally discovered some interesting facts about the Dutch royal family until very recently thanks to a visit to Kensington Palace. Well, I know you may wonder what Kensington Palace in the UK has anything to do with the Dutch monarchy, but I’m not kidding.

This discovery has really triggered my curiosity to learn more about the Dutch monarchs, and in order to satisfy my interest, I kept wandering from site to site to read more about this royal family. As Dutch people are going to celebrate the fifth King’s day since the succession to the throne of King Willem-Alexander in 2013, here are some intriguing facts about the Dutch monarchs that I want to share with you.

King Willem Alexander, Queen Maxima and their daughters

1.There was a Dutch King ruling the UK

During my first visit to Kensington Palace, I found out that King Willem-Alexander’s ancestor, William III (1650-1702), was the King of the UK from 1689 until his death. How did that happen? As far as I’ve learnt, back in 1688, the UK had a constitutional crisis. The country struggled to find the closest heir to the throne after the overthrow of James II, William’s father-in-law. William was then supported by the British parliament to be the next king of the UK, and it was a coincidence that his regnal number (III) was the same for both the Netherlands and UK. William is also informally known as “King Billy” in Northern Ireland. And forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take a look at the Dutch monarchs family tree, you’ll see that William III is great-great- great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle of King Willem-Alexander.

2.The monarch doesn’t wear crowns

Crowns might be given for some royals, especially when you’re a king or queen, but that’s not the case for the Dutch. In fact, they don’t even have a coronation. Willem-Alexander became king when his mother, queen Beatrix, signed her abdication papers, and at the formal inauguration ceremony, the crown, which was made from gold-plated silver in 1840, was displayed on a table.

3. King Willem-Alexander used to be the youngest monarch in Europe

In 2013, at his accession to the throne at the age of 46, King Willem-Alexander was Europe’s youngest monarch. He held this record until 19 June, 2014 when Felipe VI became the King of Spain, and he now remains as the second youngest monarch in Europe. King Willem-Alexander is also the first male monarch of the Netherlands since the death of his great-great-grandfather, William III, in 1890. Yep, the Dutch were ruled by powerful women for over a century. And since the royal family currently has three beautiful princesses, I think the Dutch can expect to celebrate Queen’s Day again when the King abdicates.

Inauguration day 2013

4. The King is an avid pilot

The King once said that if he hadn’t been a royal, he would have followed a career as an airline pilot so that he could control big planes like the Boeing 747. It sounds like an unfulfilled dream but in May 2017, the King revealed that he had served on KLM (the Royal Dutch Airlines) flights for 21 years as a co-pilot. Even when he became king, he still flew KLM Cityhopper’s Fokkers 70s twice a month, and when KLM got rid of the Fokker 70, the King began training to fly Boeing 737s. The King was rarely recognized in his pilot uniform with a cap, though a few passengers sometimes had recognized his voice. So maybe you’ve incidentally been on his flights if you have flown with KLM, who knows. 

5. The King was 889th in line to the British throne

It is truly confusing and difficult to count with certainty, but before the accession, King Willem-Alexander was estimated to be the 889th in line to the British throne. The fact is European royals are somewhat related to each other through their ancestors, and King Willem-Alexander, through his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Jan Willem Friso – Prince of Orange, is a cousin of Margrethe II of Denmark, Albert of the Belgians, the Grand-Duke of Luxembourg, King Harald V of Norway, King Juan-Carlos of Spain, Prince Albert of Monaco, and the Queen of the UK Elizabeth II. However, since the British royals have welcomed more direct heirs in the past few years like the three children of Prince William and Duchess Catherine, the line to the British throne of King Willem-Alexander might have been extended.

Thu Pham
Vietnamese Undergraduate student at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Posted by Thu Pham at Apr 27, 2018 03:55 PM