Willem-Alexander was born in 1967, as the eldest son of Crown Princess Beatrix (of the Netherlands) and Prince Claus (Prince of the Netherlands, Esquire of Amsberg). He became crown prince when Beatrix became queen in 1980.
Childhood & Education
He first spent his childhood in Castle Drakensteyn, and later in Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. After high school he studied history in Wales and Leiden. His enthusiastic student’s life earned him the nickname Prins Pils (Prince Pint).
The prince fulfilled his military duty in the Royal Marine. After his studies he obtained a Pilot’s license. He occasionally flies as a guest pilot for KLM Cityhopper.
Marriage & Family
In 2001, Prince Willem-Alexander’s engagement to the Argentinian Maxima Zorreguieta was announced. They were married in 2002. They have three children:
- Catharina-Amalia (born in 2003)
- Alexia (born in 2005)
- Ariane (born in 2007)
Swearing in the King
Willem-Alexander became King of the Netherlands on April 30, 2013, after his mother abdicated. In the Netherlands, the King is sworn in rather than crowned. To celebrate the occasion, which took place on Queen’s Day, a ceremony was held in the Mozes Hall in the Palace on Dam Square.
This led to the famous balcony scene where the new King and Queen appeared on the balcony of the Dam, along with the new Princess Beatrix, and waved at the audience. A famous quote from this moment is “Even wuiven” (Give them a quick wave), a motherly and regal order from the ex-queen to her son and daughter-in-law.
From Queen’s Day to King’s Day
After he was crowned, the traditional Queen’s Day, which celebrated the birthday of his grandmother Queen Juliana, who reigned from 1948 until 1970 on April 30, was changed to King’s Day, and started taking place on King Willem-Alexander’s birthday on April 27.
The King of the Netherlands is a head of state; a part of the government that cannot be overthrown. He has no ruling power, but new rules and decisions require his signature.
The decree is that Kings and Queens must be direct descendants of Queen Juliana. The royal position and successions are part of the Dutch constitution, making it a constitutional monarchy.
The kingly duties are those for the state, such as signing new laws, and those with a ceremonial value, such as making state visits and welcoming other heads of state to strengthen diplomatic ties.
An important function of the King is to read the troonrede on Prince’s Day; an overview of the government’s intended policy for the coming year.
How much does the King cost the Netherlands?
In 2016, the King’s budget was 40,6 million euros. This was largely spent on staff and materials for the Royal Household. The King himself received 5,4 million euros for personal expenditures and private income.
Voting rights of the King
Like every other Dutch citizen over 18 years old, the King has the right to vote. However, he does not make use of this right, in light of his impartial status. This is an unwritten rule in Dutch state law.
Next in line for the throne
The next King or Queen will be a lawful heir of the King. The eldest child of the King will be first in line, regardless of whether they are a son or daughter. Therefore, princess Catharina-Amalia is the first in line for the throne, followed by her sister princess Alexia, followed by the youngest daughter, princess Ariane.