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Getting to know our neighbours: The Monarchy of the Netherlands



The British Royal Family is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most recognised monarchies. But how much do you know about the other Royal Families across the globe? In this new series, we will help break down each monarchy for you, so you have a better idea of who is who.

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King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Máxima.

Let’s make a start with the Monarchy of the Netherlands.

Since 16th March 1813, The Kingdom of the Netherlands has been an independent monarchy. However, since 1559 it has been hereditarily “governed” by members of the  House of Orange-Nassau (the Royal Family). This came to order when Philip II of Spain appointed William of Orange as stadtholder. William then went on to became the leader of the Dutch Revolt and the independent Dutch Republic.

During the 17th century, the function of stadtholder developed into a heareditary head of state, filled by William’s descendants. Hence this evolution “crowned” the Dutch Republic. When the last stadtholder, William V, went in to exile in London in 1795 and eventually passed away, his son became King William I in 1813.

Today the Kingdom of the Netherlands includes Holland and two and half Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Maarten.

The Dutch Monarchy is constitutional and so the role of the monarchy is defined in about one-third of the constitution of The Netherlands. The constitution describes the succession, what would happen in case of abdication to the throne, the duties of the monarch, and how the States-General of the Netherlands and the monarch must go about the creation of laws.

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Queen Beatrix, who abdicated in 2013.

Within the constitution, article 40 states that the monarch is to receive an annual stipend (wage) from the kingdom. As the stipend is linked to the development of the wage of Dutch civil servants, there was an upset in parliament in 2009 about the cost of the royal household. For example, it was in this year that Queen Beatrix received €813,000, Prince Willem-Alexander received €241,000 and Princess Máxima (wife of Prince Willem-Alexander) was given €241,000.

It was then agreed that the civil servants would receive a pay increase of 1%. However, it was later realised that this would mean The Queen would also receive an increase, and once again parliament was upset.

The House of Oranje-Nassau costs the country’s taxpayers £31m a year, and this is more than any other European monarchy.

On 28th January 2013, Queen Beatrix announced that she would be abdicating on 30 April 2013 after reigning since 1980. Her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander would take over as reigning monarch.

Willem-Alexander became King the moment Queen Beatrix signed her abdication papers. The Dutch Royal Family do not have a coronation and so Willem was invested during a lavish ceremony – the crown, orb and sceptre were only displayed on a table instead.

King Willem-Alexander (born 1967) attended the University of Leiden, and read history. On 2nd February 2002, he married Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, an economics major. Their marriage was under scrutiny as her father was a minister of agriculture in the dictatorial regime under General Videla in Argentina. This was only hushed by Máxima’s father agreeing not to be present at their wedding.

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King Willem-Alexander and his family.

They have three children together, Princess Catharina-Amalia (born in 2003), Princess Alexia (2005) and Princess Ariane (2007).

King Willem-Alexander is in fact around 889th in-line to the British throne. His great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather is Jan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, and King Willem-Alexander is a cousin of Margrethe II of Denmark, Albert II of the Belgians, the Grand-Duke of Luxembourg, Harald V of Norway, Juan-Carlos of Spain, Albert II of Monaco, and our own Queen Elizabeth II!

Yet with a connection like that, even I may be closer to the throne!

Photo Credit: Tom Jutte via Flickr, Jonas via Flickr, peetje2 via Flickr