As a sea of Orange descended on Amsterdam, the Kingdom of the Netherlands got its first King since 1890 – King Willem-Alexander upon the abdication of Queen Beatrix.  After the death of Willem III in 1890, the Dutch have had 3 queens in a row – Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix – all of whom abdicated in old age in favor of their successor.

William III of the Netherlands

William III of the Netherlands

 

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix and Queen Maxima

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Beatrix and Queen Maxima

The Dutch have had a somewhat tortured history with monarchy.  William of Nassau led the Dutch Revolt against Spain and his title as the independent Prince of Orange (in Southern France) gave him some protection as a sovereign prince.  Yet he was never a King and merely the Stadtholder of  most of the 7 provinces, his brother being the Stadtholder of the rest.  Yet it was the title of Statdtholder of Holland and Zeeland that was key and gave William his title of Captain-General of the Dutch armies and essentially military dictator.  It was also here where the Republican movement was strongest and the resistance to the quasi-monarchial aspects of the Stadtholderate was strongest.

 The Netherlands went through two “Stadtholderless” periods in 5 out of the 7 provinces.  The first from 1650 – 72 after the death of William II until the French invasion.  The second from 1702-1747 after the death of William III (also King of England, Scotland and Ireland) until military failures in another war with France.  The Stadtholders were packed off into exile during the French revolution but the son of the last Stadtholder was restored as King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (including Belgium and Luxembourg broke away in the 1830s.  Luxembourg went to a male relative after the death of Willem III in 1890.  In the Dutch remnant of the Netherlands, the House of Orange-Nassau has prospered.

Like most of the European monarchies the monarchy is largely ceremonial.  Thanks to the business acumen of Wilhemina, the Dutch Royal House is one of the wealthiest.

The new Queen Maxima also becomes the second Latin American Queen in Europe – after Queen Sylvia of Sweden.  The new King Willem-Alexander will only briefly break the chain of female rule in what should probably be referred to as a Queendom.  He has only daughters and the new heiress to the throne and new Princess of Orange is his daughter Catharina-Amalia.

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