Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The present monarchy was established in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna as part of the re-arrangement of Europe after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. The House of Orange-Nassau were given the modern day Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to rule, which came to be known as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Prior to the Napoleonic wars, the Netherlands had stadtholders from the same family, although the state was, formally, a republic.
The first king of the constitutional monarchy of the Netherlands, William I, was a descendant of William the Rich through his eldest son William of Orange (also known as William the Silent) who, from 1568 on, had led the Dutch in their eighty-year struggle for independence from Spain. His family had a considerable influence on Dutch politics. They came from Dillenburg, Germany, home of the Nassau family. Willem's title 'Prince of Orange' was acquired through his possession of the principality of Orange, located south of Valence in France.
Abdication of the throne has become a de facto tradition in Dutch Monarchy. Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana both abdicated in favor of their daughters and William I abdicated in favor of his son. The present monarch, Queen Beatrix, has stated she will not abdicate in the near future, to allow Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Máxima to spend time with their family.
|(as "sovereign prince")|
(as "king") Belgium seceded during his reign; abdicated, died 1843
|William III||1849-1890||Last monarch to serve as Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
|(Emma)||1890-1898||Regent for her daughter Wilhelmina|
|Wilhelmina||1890-1948||abdicated, died 1962|
|Juliana||1948-1980||abdicated, died 2004|
When Wilhelmina came to the throne in 1890 at age 10 (her mother, Queen Emma, second wife of the then deceased William III, acted as regent until Wilhelmina reached the age of 18) — Luxembourg, also a former member of the erstwhile German Confederation, seceded almost immediately. One of the reasons was that at the time they were not willing to accept a queen under Salic law. Instead a family member, Adolf, former Duke of Nassau, became Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
The 50(58)-year reign of Queen Wilhelmina was dominated by the two World Wars. She married a German prince, Heinrich von Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who unfortunately was not happy with his unrewarding role of husband-to-the-queen. Wilhelmina's strong personality and unrelenting passion to fulfill her inherited task overpowered many men in position of authority, including ministers, prime-ministers and her own husband. She is mostly remembered for her role during World War II. Initial disappointment of many Dutch people because of her quick withdrawal to London faded when she proved to be of great moral support to the people and the resistance in her occupied country. Hendrik and Wilhelmina had one daughter, Juliana, who came to the throne in 1948. They lived in The Hague and in Palace 't Loo (Paleis 't Loo) in Apeldoorn.
Juliana reigned from 1948 until 1980, and whereas Wilhelmina reigned like a general, Juliana expressed a more motherly character. One of her first official acts was to sign the treaty of independence of the Dutch colony Indonesia. She became involved in two major crises: the Greet Hofmans affair and the Lockheed scandal , both of which directly threatened the credibility of the throne. She married a German of noble descent, Prince Bernard von Lippe-Biesterfeld. Together they had four daughters, Beatrix, Irene, Margriet and Christina. After their return from Ottawa, Canada in 1945 (where Margriet was born), they lived in the Soestdijk Palace (Paleis Soestdijk) in Soestdijk, about 20 Km north-east of Utrecht. She died on March 20, 2004. Her husband Bernhard died on December 1, 2004.
The Dutch royal family today is much larger than it has ever been. Queen Beatrix and her husband, the late Prince Claus, have three sons, Willem-Alexander, Johan Friso and Constantijn (married to princess Laurentien). Her sister Margriet and her spouse Pieter van Vollenhoven have four sons: Maurits, Bernhard, Pieter-Christiaan and Floris. Six of these seven princes as well as Margriet, are all (potentially) legal heirs to the throne, although the first right goes to the Crown Prince, and after him his daughter Catharina-Amalia, then his brother Constantijn. Prince Johan-Friso lost his right to the throne because his marriage to Mabel Wisse Smit was not approved by the Staten-Generaal. The two other sisters of Beatrix, Irene and Christina, have lost their rights to the throne because their marriages were not approved by the Staten-Generaal . They both married Roman-Catholics and Irene herself converted to Roman-Catholicism, which at that time (the 1960s) was still politically problematic for an heir to the throne. Traditionally, Dutch monarchs have always been members of the Dutch Reformed church although this was never constitutionally required. This tradition is embedded in the history of the Netherlands. An additional complication which the government wanted to avoid, was that Irene's husband, Carlos de Bourbon Parma, (whom she later divorced) was a Spanish member of a noble family that claimed their alleged rights to the Spanish throne.
The crown prince is Willem-Alexander (born 1967), prince of Orange-Nassau. He studied history at the University of Leiden and became actively involved in water management . His wife is princess Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, an economy major, whose father was a minister of agriculture in the dictatorial regime under general Vidéla in Argentina. Because of that, their relationship was accompanied by fierce public debate, and only officially sanctified after quiet diplomacy, resulting in Máxima's father agreeing not to be present on their wedding day (February 2, 2002). Former minister Max van der Stoel and prime-minister Wim Kok seem to have played a crucial role in this process.
- Official Royal Website: lots of information about the monarchy and Royal Family, and virtual palace tours (texts in Dutch and English)
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