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|King of the Netherlands
Prince of Orange Prince of the Netherlands Prince of Orange-Nassau
|Reign||30 April 2013 – present|
|Successor||Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange|
|Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand|
|Born||27 April 1967 (age 54) |
|Spouse||Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (m. 2002)|
|Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange |
|Father||Claus von Amsberg|
|Mother||Beatrix of the Netherlands|
|Religion||Christian (Dutch Reformed Church)|
HM The King *
HRH Princess Beatrix *
Willem-Alexander (Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand; born 27 April 1967) is the King of the Netherlands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 2013. He is the eldest child of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, and he is the head of the House of Amsberg since the death of his father in 2002. He was in military service and he studied history at Leiden University. Prince Willem-Alexander is currently interested in international water management issues and sports. He married Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti in 2002. They have three daughters Princess Catharina-Amalia (born 2003), Princess Alexia (born 2005), and Princess Ariane (born 2007). He become the first King of the Netherlands since the death of his great-great grandfather William III in 1890.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Work and royal duties
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Titles, styles, honours and arms
Early life[edit | edit source]
Prince Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand was born on 27 April 1967 in the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is the first child of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prince Claus of the Netherlands. From birth, Willem-Alexander has the titles Prince of the Netherlands (Dutch: Prins der Nederlanden), Prince of Orange-Nassau (Dutch: Prins van Oranje-Nassau), and Jonkheer of Amsberg (Dutch: Jonkheer van Amsberg).
He was baptized as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church on 2 September 1967 in Saint Jacob's Church in The Hague. His godparents are Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck, Prime Minister Jelle Zijlstra, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
He has two younger brothers: Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, born in 1968, and Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, born in 1969. He lived with his family at the castle Drakesteijn in the hamlet Lage Vuursche near Baarn from his birth until 1981, when they moved to the larger palace Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. His mother Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands in 1980, after his grandmother Juliana abdicated. He then received the hereditary title Prince of Orange, as heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of the autonomous countries the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
Education and military training[edit | edit source]
Prince Willem-Alexander attended Nieuwe Baarnse Elementary School in Baarn from 1973 to 1979. He went to three different high schools: the Baarns Lyceum in Baarn from 1979 to 1981, the Eerste Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum in The Hague from 1981 to 1983, and the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales near Llantwit Major (1983 to 1985), where the prince had friends, and from where he received his International Baccalaureate.
After high school he performed military service in the Royal Netherlands Navy from August 1985 to January 1987. He received his training at the Royal Netherlands Naval College and the frigates HNLMS Tromp and HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, where he was an ensign. In 1988, he received additional training at the ship HNLMS Van Kinsbergen and became a lieutenant (junior grade).
From 1987, Prince Willem-Alexander studied history at Leiden University and received his academic degree in 1993. His final dissertation was on the Dutch response to France's decision under President Charles de Gaulle to leave NATO's integrated command structure. During this period he received the nickname prins pils (English: prince pilsner).
Work and royal duties[edit | edit source]
Prince Willem-Alexander is interested in water management issues. He is an honorary member of the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century and patron of the Global Water Partnership, a body established by the World Bank, the UN, and the Swedish Ministry of Development. He was appointed as the Chairperson of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation on 12 December 2006.
The prince is a member of the Raad van State, the highest council to the Dutch government that is chaired by his mother, Queen Beatrix. As part of his royal duties, he holds commissions in the Dutch Army (as brigadier), Navy (as commandeur) and Air Force (as commodore).
He was a patron of the Dutch Olympic Games Committee until 1998 when he was made a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam, he has expressed support to bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Engagement and marriage[edit | edit source]
On 2 February 2002, he married Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (born 17 May 1971) at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Máxima is an Argentine woman of Spanish and Italian ancestry who prior to their marriage worked as an investment banker in New York City. The marriage triggered significant controversy due to the bride's father's prior role in the Argentinian military dictatorship.
The prince is a direct descendant of Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, eldest daughter of British King George II. However, under the British Act of Settlement, Prince Willem-Alexander forfeited his (distant) succession rights to the throne of the United Kingdom, because he married a Roman Catholic.
Children[edit | edit source]
- Her Royal Highness Princess Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria born 7 December 2003
- Her Royal Highness Princess Alexia Juliana Marcela Laurentien born 26 June 2005
- Her Royal Highness Princess Ariane Wilhelmina Máxima Inés born 10 April 2007
Family privacy and the press[edit | edit source]
In an attempt to strike a balance between privacy for the royal family and availability to the press, the Netherlands Government Information Service (RVD) instituted a media code on June 21, 2005 which essentially states that:
- Photographs of the members of the royal house while performing their duties are always permitted.
- For other occasions (like holidays), the RVD will arrange a photo-op on condition that the press leave the family alone for the rest of the holiday.
During a ski vacation in Argentina, several photographs were taken of the prince and his family during the private part of their holiday (including one by Associated Press staff photographer Natacha Pisarenko) in spite of the media code, and after a photo op had earlier been provided. The Associated Press decided to publish some of the photos. The pictures were also republished by several Dutch media.
Prince Willem-Alexander and the RVD jointly filed suit against the Associated Press on August 5, 2009. The trial started on August 14 at the district court in Amsterdam and concluded with a verdict on August 28. The court found in favor of the Prince and the RVD, citing that the royal couple has a right to privacy and the pictures in question add nothing to any public debate, nor are they of any particular value to society (since they are not photographs of the royals "at work"). Associated Press was sentenced to stop further publication of the photographs, on pain of a €1000 fine per violation with a €50000 maximum.
Machangulo affair[edit | edit source]
On 10 July 2008, the Prince and Princess of Orange announced that they had invested in a development project on the Mozambican peninsula of Machangulo. The development project was aimed at building an ecologically responsible vacation resort, including a hotel and several luxury vacation houses for investors. The project was to invest heavily in the local economy of the peninsula (building schools and a local clinic) with an eye both towards responsible sustainability and maintaining a local staff. After contacting Mozambican president Armando Guebuza to verify that the Mozambican government had no objections, the couple decided to invest in two villas.
In 2009 there was controversy and a swirl of rumors about the project and the prince's position in relation to it. Politician Alexander Pechtold questioned the morality of building such a resort in a poor country like Mozambique. There were allegations of corruption involving a contractor on the project and project delays in constructing the schools and clinic.
In November 2009, there were a number of parliamentary debates on the issue and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was called to answer questions. He explained that the project was a private affair of the prince, but that extra distance had been created between the prince and the business of the project to avoid entanglements by creating a foundation to manage the prince's interests. The press called the independence of that foundation into question, because it was run by a personal friend of the prince's and a co-investor in the project.
On November 20, 2009, the prime minister returned to parliament to announce that the prince and princess had decided, due to the public and parliamentary controversy, to sell the property in Machangulo once their house was completed. To this end he read a letter in parliament written by the prince personally. The house was due to be sold on completion in 2010. Its sale was confirmed in January 2012.
Leisure activities[edit | edit source]
Willem-Alexander is an aircraft pilot and sportsman. In 1989, the Prince flew as a volunteer for the African Medical Research and Education Foundation (AMREF) in Kenya, and in 1991 he spent a month flying for the Kenya Wildlife Service. To make sure he flies enough hours a year to retain his license, he also regularly flies the Dutch royal airplane when he and his family travel abroad.
Using the name "W.A. van Buren", one of the less well-known titles of the House of Orange-Nassau, he has participated in the New York City Marathon, where his aunt, Princess Christina, and several cousins live. In the Netherlands, he was a participant in the Frisian Eleven Cities ice skating marathon, aka the Elfstedentocht.
The Prince was seen cheering on the Netherlands' national football team during their hosting year, at Euro 2000, always wearing an orange vest. He memorably gave a nervous laugh of disbelief as the Netherlands missed their second penalty of normal time against the Italians in the semi-final.
Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife travelled to South Africa to support the national team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and were shown on worldwide television wearing orange-themed clothing.
Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit | edit source]
Titles and styles[edit | edit source]
- 27 April 1967 – 30 April 1980: His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg
- 30 April 1980 – 30 April 2013: His Royal Highness The Prince of Orange
- 30 April 2013 – present: His Majesty The King of the Netherlands
Willem-Alexander is the first Dutch king since Willem III, who died in 1890. Willem-Alexander had earlier indicated that when he became king, he would take the name Willem IV, but it was announced in January 2013 that his regnal name would be Willem-Alexander.
Military ranks[edit | edit source]
- Conscription – Royal Netherlands Navy
- August 1985 – January 1987: Ensign
- 1988: Lieutenant (junior grade)
- Royal Netherlands Navy – Reserve
- 1988–1995: Lieutenant
- 1995–1997: Lieutenant Commander
- 1997–2001: Commander
- 2001–2005: Captain at Sea
- 27 April 2005 - present: Commodore
- Royal Netherlands Air Force – Reserve
- 1995–2005: Squadron Leader
- 27 April 2005 - present: Air Commodore
- Royal Netherlands Army – Reserve
- 1995–1997: Major, Grenadiers' and Huntsmen's Guard Regiment
- 1997–2001: Lieutenant Colonel
- 2001–2005: Colonel
- 27 April 2005 - present: Brigadier General
- Royal Marechaussee – Reserve
- 27 April 2005 - present: Brigadier General
Honours[edit | edit source]
- Dutch orders and decorations
- 27 April 1967: Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange
- 30 April 1980: Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- 30 April 1980: Queen Beatrix Investiture Medal
- 27 April 1985: Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- 2 February 2002: Royal Wedding Medal
- 6 December 2006: Officer's cross for long service, with numeral XX
- 8 June 1996: Order of Saint John in the Netherlands
- Foreign orders
- Belgium (1993): Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross
- Chile: Grand Cross of the Order of the Merit of Chile
- Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant
- France: Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit
- Germany: Grand Cross of the Federal Cross of Merit
- Indonesia: Grand Cross of the Order of Mahaputera
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum
- Luxembourg: Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown
- Luxembourg: Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau
- Mexico: Band of the Order of the Aztec Eagle
- Norway (1996): Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav
- Oman (10 January 2012): Supreme Class of the Order of the Renaissance
- Spain: Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
- Sweden (2006): Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim
- Thailand (2004): Grand Cross of the Order of Chula Chom Klao
- UAE (9 January 2012): Member of the Union Order
- Venezuela: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Liberator
Honorary appointment[edit | edit source]
- Aide-de-camp to Her Majesty The Queen