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William III of the Netherlands

King William III (Alexander) - (February 17, 1817 - November 23, 1890). King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxemburg (1849-1890)

William was born in Brussels as son of William II of the Netherlands and Queen Anna, sister to the Russian Czar.

The only thing that is known about his early years is that he served in the military.

William married Sophie, princess of Württemberg in 1839. This marriage was unhappy and was characterized by struggle about their children. Sophie was intellectual, liberal and loathed everything leaning towards dictatorship (she meant the army). William was more like a farmer, conservative and loving arms. William prohibited intellectual exercise at home and was called an uneducated farmer by Queen Victoria. Sophie and Victoria wrote letters to each other.

William loathed the constitutional changes (1848) initiated by his father. William II and Sophie saw them as key to survival for the monarchy in changing times. William himself saw them as useless limitations of royal power. He liked governing like his grandfather.

He tried to relinquish his right to the throne to his younger brother. His mother convinced him to cancel this action. One year later William became King upon the death of his father.

He thought several times about abdication as soon as his son turned eighteen, during the first period of his reign. His son became 18 in 1858, as William was uncomfortable making a decision he remained King.

His first act was the inauguration of the parliamentary cabinet of Thorbecke (liberal), the designer of the 1848 constitution. William loathed this man intensively. When the Catholic hierarchy of bishops was restored in 1853 he found 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. When he did so he installed royal cabinets which ruled short as there was no support in elected parliament. He wanted to sell the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg in 1867. This caused tensions between Prussia and France. There was almost war. This stupidity meant the final end of William's royal plans.

Another reason for unhappy marriage was his capriciousness. This also caused wrath by politicians. One day he was extremely polite to his ministers, the other day the palace was too small to house the anger William used against the same ministers.

William was popular with the ordinary people. He presented himself as a cordial man.

In 1877 Sophie died and years of private life war ended. In 1879 William caused many upheavel by politicians when he wanted to marry the 41-years younger Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, a small German principality. Emma showed herself as a cordial woman and when William asked permission to parliament it was easily granted. He quickly married her.

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 in 1884 after the death of the last remaining son from William's first marriage. Between 1878 and 1884 many potential heirs died and the tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft was never opened so many times in history. William became seriously ill in 1887.

He died in 1890 leaving his young daughter as Queen. Luxemburg went to another line of the Royal House because only men could inherit the Grand Duchy.

Preceded by:
William II
List of Kings and Queens of the Netherlands Succeeded by:

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