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Prince of Orange

Prince of Orange (Dutch: Prins van Oranje) is a title given to the Heir Apparent of the Netherlands.

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History and Use

The title originally referred to the sovereign principality of Orange in southern France, which was a property of the House of Orange (from 1702 Orange-Nassau). Because Orange was a sovereign principality the title contained feudal rights. In 1713, Louis XIV of France annexed the principality in revenge for the war actions the late stadtholder-king William III of England (d.1702) undertook against him. In this way the title lost its feudal and secular privileges.

The title remained in use as a title given to the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic but only as a personal (not constitutional) title, which means that the title is related to the House of Orange.

After the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 the title was partly reconstitutionalized in a bill and granted to the eldest son of King Willem I, Crown Prince Willem. Since then the title has been granted to the eldest child of the king (Salic Law wasn't introduced in the 1815 constitution, precedence of male above female was repealed in 1983). From 1880 (the birth of Princess Wilhelmina) the title "Princess of Orange was granted to all female heirs apparent to the throne. In the 19th century the female varient of the title was also granted to the Heir Apparent's wife. Instead of gaining the title by courtesy, the title has to be granted on wives. The current wife of the Heir Apparent (Princess Maxima) hasn't got the title "Princess of Orange" officially, but she may use it as wife of the Heir Apparent. Husbands of female bearers never gain the title.

The title doesn't need to be granted necessarily, but has always been granted until now.

The Prince(ss) of Orange is styled "His/Her Royal Highness the Prince(ss) of Orange" (Zijne/Hare Koninklijke Hoogheid de Prins(es) van Oranje)

William the Silent was the first bearer in the House of Orange. The title descended upon all his descendants. Since 1815, as already mentioned, the title is in the hands of the Heir Apparent.

The current bearer of the title is Prince Willem-Alexander

Bearers of the title (with dates):

as sovereign prince of Orange

as a personal title

as Heir Apparent

  • Willem II (1815-1840, title dropped on accession to the throne)
  • Willem III (1840-1849, title dropped on accession to the throne)
  • Willem, eldest son of Willem III from his 1st marriage (1849-1879)
  • Alexander, second son of William III from his 1st marriage (1879-1884)
  • Wilhelmina, daughter from his 2nd marriage (1884-1890, title dropped on accession to the throne)
  • Juliana (1909-1948, title dropped on accession to the throne)
  • Beatrix (1948-1980, title dropped on accession to the throne)
  • Prince Willem-Alexander[?] (1980-)

And so the current Heir Apparent is the 18th bearer of the title in the House of Orange-Nassau.

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