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The Netherlands

A most unusual arrival – King Willem-Alexander pilots government plane to Germany for a state visit

willem-alexander
© RVD – Paul Tolenaar.

On Monday July 5th, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands arrived in Germany to begin a three-day state visit to the country. 

The Dutch state plane landed at Berlin Brandenburg Airport around 11am carrying Their Majesties and three government ministers: the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Public Health. 

One peculiarity of the arrival was that in the cockpit, sitting in the copilot’s seat was King Willem-Alexander. As you would expect, this was not the first time His Majesty piloted planes.

A few years ago, it became known that The King has piloted several commercial flights for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

For 21 years, The King regularly piloted Fokker 70 planes for KLM, and when the company discontinued these aircraft, he started training to fly Boeing 737s. 

He has always stated that, had he not been a member of the Dutch Royal Family, he would’ve loved to be a commercial airline pilot. 

During his commercial flying days, he was rarely recognised by passengers because he was wearing the regular KLM uniform and pilot cap. Some people, however, were able to identify him by his voice once he had welcomed passengers on board on behalf of himself and the crew, even though he never gave his name. 

It is not the first time King Willem-Alexander is seen piloting his own plane for state duties either. During most state and official visits to other countries, when the plane lands, His Majesty is photographed in the cockpit of the plane, dressed in a pilot uniform and with all the radio equipment still on his head.