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Royal Relations: how Elizabeth II is linked to King Willem-Alexander



Her Majesty The Queen is related to many of Europe’s sovereigns, not in the least because of Queen Victoria’s matchmaking but also because of another woman, Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau.

Princess Carolina was born on 28 February 1743 as the daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal, the daughter of King George II and Caroline of Ansbach, after whom she would be named on the King’s request. Anne had suffered several miscarriages and stillbirths, and so the relief at the birth of a healthy child was great, even if she was just a girl. In 1748, her only surviving sibling was born, the future William V, Prince of Orange.

On 5 March 1760, Carolina married Charles Christian, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg, and Carolina would go on to be pregnant 16 times. She suffered at least one miscarriage, and only 7 of her children would survive to adulthood. Carolina died suddenly after an illness of just two days on 6 May 1787.

Her most lasting legacy is perhaps that all the eight Kings and Queens of the current reigning dynasties are descended from her, making her truly a grandmother of Europe. Her Majesty The Queen is a descendant of Carolina’s through her daughter Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg, who married Duke Louis of Württemberg. Their son Alexander married Claudine Rhédey von Kis Rhéde. Their son was Francis of Teck, later Duke of Teck, who married Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. Mary Adelaide was, of course, the mother of Mary of Teck, who married King George V, the current Queen’s grandfather.

King Willem-Alexander is a descendant of Carolina’s through her eldest surviving son, Frederick William. He married Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg and their son William, Duke of Nassau married as his second wife Princess Pauline of Württemberg. From this second marriage, he had a further three surviving children. His daughter Helena of Nassau married George Victor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and together they had seven children. Their fourth daughter Princess Emma became the second wife of King William III of the Netherlands in 1879. They had one daughter together, the future Queen Wilhelmina. Wilhelmina married Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and they went on to have one surviving daughter together, the future Queen Juliana. Juliana’s eldest daughter was the future Queen Beatrix, King Willem-Alexander’s mother.

In addition, King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty The Queen are King Willem-Alexander and Queen Elizabeth II are fifth cousins, twice removed as they are also both descendants of Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg. Frederick’s eldest daughter Sophie Dorothea married Emperor Paul I of Russia and was the mother of Anna Pavlovna who became the wife of King William II of the Netherlands, from whom the Dutch Royal Family still descends. Frederick’s second son was the aforementioned Louis who married Carolina’s daughter and is thus Queen Elizabeth’s ancestor.

As a descendant of King George II, King Willem-Alexander is also distantly in line for the British throne. He was removed from the line of succession upon his marriage to a Roman Catholic in 2002, but he was reinstated when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 came into force.

Royal Centrals’s Assistant Editor Moniek Bloks has written a book about Carolina of Orange-Nassau, which is available worldwide!