Suddenly we must make a huge jump in time for this last Princess of Orange. After the death of Sophie of Württemberg her husband remarried to Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, but as he was already King of the Netherlands, she automatically became Queen. After William III the title was held by his sons William and Alexander. William lived in an unhappy state since he was denied marriage to a mere countess, Matilde of Limburg-Stirum. Rumours arose that it was not her low station that had caused William III to block the marriage, but that Matilde was possibly the result of an affair he had with her mother. William could not possibly marry his own half-sister. He left for Paris after a Russian Grand Duchess also turned down marriage. He lived a licentious life there and died of a combination of liver disease, typhoid and exhaustion, after which the title passed to his brother Alexander.
Alexander had been nervous and sickly from birth. He also remained unmarried and he became quite lonely after the deaths of both his mother and brother. He lived to see the birth of his half-sister Wilhelmina but died just four later in 1884, just 32 years old. The Prince of Orange title had always been limited to the male line. So, despite the fact that Wilhelmina was now heiress she never carried the title in her own right. She became Queen in 1890 upon the death of her father. She was just ten years old and her mother Emma acted as regent. After Alexander’s death it would be another 96 years before the title was used again.
The current King of the Netherlands was born on 27 April 1967 and he became Prince of Orange on 30 April 1980, when his mother Beatrix succeeded as Queen. Surprisingly, when he married Máxima Zorreguieta she did not become Princess of Orange due to a recent change in law, which limited the title to only the heir apparent. On her wedding day she was granted the titles Princess of the Netherlands and Princess of Orange-Nassau with ‘Her Royal Highness’ as style of address. They had three daughters, Catharina-Amalia born in 2002, Alexia born in 2005 and Ariane born in 2007. When Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother on 30 April 2013 his eldest child automatically became Princess of Orange as the title no longer differentiates between a male or female heir and the Netherlands has known absolute primogeniture since 1983. She is the first woman to hold the title in her own right, despite the Netherlands’ having had three Queens before her. There has been a sovereign Princess of Orange in the form of Mary of Baux, who held the title from 1393 to 1417.
Catharina-Amalia was born on 7 December 2003 at 5.01 PM in The Hague’s Bronovo Hospital. She was baptised on 12 June 2004 with Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Baroness Rengers-Deane, Prince Constantijn, Martin Zorreguieta, Herman Tjeenk Willink and Marc ter Haar as godparents. Her full name is Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria. It was decided early on that until their 18th birthday the children of Willem-Alexander and Maxima would have limited responsibilities. They attend mayor functions, such as King’s Day and the press moments, but not much more. Catharina-Amalia’s first mayor function, as well as her sister’s, was their grandmother’s abdication and their father’s accession. She was just ten years old at the time. She has been attending school like a regular child since 2007 and she began attending high school this year. She already speaks two languages and she knows some Spanish, no doubt taught to her by her mother. She will assume a seat in the Advisory Division of the Council of State of the Netherlands upon reaching the age of majority at 18 and is expected to become Queen some day.
Photocredit: Dutch Royal Family by Tom Jutte via Flickr.com