World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

King William III of the Netherlands

Article Id: WHEBN0004338901
Reproduction Date:

Title: King William III of the Netherlands  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Honorary Medal for Merits toward Museum Collections, Flood Disaster Medal, Berthe Hoola van Nooten
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

King William III of the Netherlands

For other people known as William III, see William III (disambiguation).
William III
Portrait of King William III of the Netherlands by Nicolaas Pieneman (1865)
King of the Netherlands
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Reign 1849–1890
Predecessor William II
Successor Wilhelmina (in the Netherlands)
Adolphe (in Luxembourg)
Spouse Sophie of Württemberg
Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont
William, Prince of Orange
Prince Maurice
Alexander, Prince of Orange
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Full name
Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk
House House of Orange-Nassau
Father William II of the Netherlands
Mother Anna Pavlovna of Russia
Born (1817-02-19)19 February 1817
Brussels, United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Died 23 November 1890(1890-11-23) (aged 73)
Het Loo Palace, Apeldoorn, Netherlands
Burial Nieuwe Kerk, Delft, Netherlands
Religion Dutch Reformed Church

Template:NassauNeth William III (Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk, anglicised: William Alexander Paul Frederick Louis; 19 February 1817 – 23 November 1890) was King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1849 until his death in 1890. He was also the Duke of Limburg from 1849 until the abolition of the duchy in 1866.

William was the son of King William II and Anna Pavlovna of Russia. On the abdication of his grandfather William I in 1840, he became the Prince of Orange. On the death of his father in 1849, he succeeded as King of the Netherlands.

William married his cousin Sophie of Württemberg in 1839 and they had three sons, William, Maurice, and Alexander, all of whom predeceased him. He married Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 1879 and they had one daughter Wilhelmina, who succeeded William to the Dutch throne. William III was the last male monarch of the Netherlands until the accession of King Willem-Alexander in 2013.[1]

Early life

William was born on 19 February 1817 in Brussels as son of King William II and Queen Anna Paulowna. In his early years, he served in the military.

He married his first cousin, Sophie, daughter of King William I of Württemberg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, in Stuttgart on 18 June 1839. This marriage was unhappy and was characterized by struggles about their children. Sophie was a liberal intellectual, hating everything leaning toward dictatorship, such as the army. William was simpler, more conservative, and loved the military. He prohibited intellectual exercise at home, for which action Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who corresponded with Princess Sophie, called him an uneducated farmer. (His extramarital enthusiasms, however, led the New York Times to call him "the greatest debauchee of the age".[2]) Another cause of marital tension (and later political tension) was his capriciousness; he could rage against someone one day, and be extremely polite the next.

William loathed the 1848 constitutional changes initiated by his father (William II) and Johan Rudolf Thorbecke. His father saw them as key to the monarchy's survival in changing times. Sophie also shared this view. William himself saw them as useless limitations of royal power, and would have preferred to govern as an enlightened despot in the mold of his grandfather, William I.

He considered relinquishing his right to the throne to his younger brother Henry and later to his older son. His mother convinced him to cancel this action. One year later (1849) William became king upon the death of his father.


King William III repeatedly contemplated abdicating as soon as his eldest son William, Prince of Orange, turned eighteen. This occurred in 1858, but as William was uncomfortable making a decision he remained king. His first act was the inauguration of the parliamentary cabinet of Thorbecke, the liberal designer of the 1848 constitution, whom William loathed.

When the Roman Catholic hierarchy of bishops was restored in 1853 he found growing conservative support and a reason to dismiss his rival. In the first two decades of his reign, he dismissed several cabinets and disbanded the States-General several times, installing royal cabinets which ruled as long as there was support in the elected second chamber of parliament.

In 1856, William unilaterally instituted a new, reactionary constitution for Luxembourg in what has become known as the 'Coup of 1856'.[3] He tried to sell his privately held grand duchy (Nassau) in 1867, leading to the Luxembourg Crisis, which almost precipitated war between Prussia and France. However, the subsequent Second Treaty of London reestablished Luxembourg as a fully independent country.

During his reign, the King became more and more unpopular with his bourgeois-liberal subjects – his whims provoking their resistance and mockery, but remained quite popular with the common man.[4][5]

He was the 963rd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain in 1842, the 777th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1882 and the 72nd Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.

In 1877, Queen Sophie died and years of war in the palace came to an end. In the same year, King William announced his intention to marry Eleonore d'Ambre, a French opera singer, whom he ennobled as countess d'Ambroise – without government consent. Under pressure from society and the government, he abandoned these marriage plans.[6][7] In 1879, King William firstly proposed to his niece, the princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Weimar, but finally decided to marry Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, a small German principality. Some politicians were quite angry, as she was 41 years the king's junior. Emma showed herself, however, as a cordial woman; and when William asked permission from parliament, this was easily granted and the couple were quickly married in Arolsen on 7 January 1879. She was not his first choice. He had previously been considering her older sister, Princess Pauline of Waldeck and Pyrmont, as well as Princess Thyra of Denmark, who had her own private scandalous history.

Emma had a relieving influence on William's capricious personality and the marriage was extremely happy. The last decade was without any doubt the best of his reign. In 1880, Wilhelmina was born. She became heiress presumptive in 1884 after the death of the last remaining son from William's first marriage. Many potential male heirs had died between 1878 and 1884.

King William became seriously ill in 1887. However in 1888, he managed to personally hand over a gold medal of honour to the lifeboat hero Dorus Rijkers, for saving the lives of 20 people.

He died in Het Loo in 1890. Because Wilhelmina had not yet reached adulthood, Emma became regent for her daughter. She would remain regent until Wilhelmina's eighteenth birthday in 1898.

Because the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg could only be inherited through the male Nassau line under the terms of the house-treaty of the House of Nassau, it went to William's 17th cousin once removed (and incidentally Emma's uncle on her mother's side), Adolphe, the Duke of Nassau. His branch of the House of Nassau still governs the Grand Duchy.


Of William III's legitimate children, three reached adulthood, two sons from his marriage to Queen Sophie and one daughter from his marriage to Queen Emma:


  • His Royal Highness Prince William of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau (1817–1840)
  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Orange, Prince of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau (1840–1849)
  • His Majesty The King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Limburg (1849–1890)


16. William IV, Prince of Orange
8. William V, Prince of Orange
17. Anne, Princess Royal
4. William I of the Netherlands
18. Prince Augustus William of Prussia
9. Wilhelmina of Prussia
19. Louise Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
2. William II of the Netherlands
20. Prince Augustus William of Prussia (= 18)
10. Frederick William II of Prussia
21. Louise Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg (= 19)
5. Wilhelmine of Prussia
22. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
11. Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
23. Caroline of Zweibrücken
1. William III of the Netherlands
24. Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
12. Peter III of Russia
25. Anna Petrovna of Russia
6. Paul I of Russia
26. Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
13. Catherine II of Russia
27. Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
3. Anna Pavlovna of Russia
28. Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
14. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg
29. Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis
7. Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
30. Margrave Frederick William of Brandenburg-Schwedt
15. Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt
31. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Prussia

See also

Notes and references

External links

  • Official website of the Dutch monarchy
William III of the Netherlands
Born: 17 February 1817 Died: 23 November 1890
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William II
King of the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Duke of Limburg
Merged into the Kingdom
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Succeeded by
Dutch royalty
Preceded by
William, Prince of Orange
later became King William II
Prince of Orange
Succeeded by
William, Prince of Orange

Template:Princes of Orange

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.