Once Upon A Time #1

willem_1In a country far, far away… Sorry this is not a fairy tale, but it includes castles, palaces, princes, kings…

King William I
The history of the Dutch royal family begins in a cart on the beach of Scheveningen. The future King William I is overtaken on November 30, 1813 after his arrival from England. His father, stadtholder William V, fled there when the French occupied the Netherlands. Now the power of Napoleon is on its return, which will also change a lot for the Orange family.

The Netherlands has been for centuries a republic, but the provisional government in the country gave the title of Sovereign Prince to William. On a whim of Orange Love the public accepts the new monarchy, before the end of the year the position of William I is confirmed in a new constitution. On March 30, 1814 he is inaugurated in Amsterdam as king.

Even internationally it goes well. The victorious powers would like a buffer state against France and therefore add the current Belgium to the Netherlands. The southern Netherlands are united again with the northern parts. He calls himself immediately King of the United Netherlands.

William goes energetically to work and put in a lot of trade: he lets dig canals, roads and constructions as such, and starts the Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij [Dutch Trading Company]. It earned him the nickname king-merchant.

In Belgium however, William has another nickname: the copper king, because when he took office only copper instead of silver coins had been thrown. With the Southern Netherlands, it goes wrong thereby from the start. The Catholic, French-speaking residents feel second class citizens under the Protestant Dutchman. After the performance of a nationalist opera in Brussels, a more or less spontaneously break will start the Belgian Revolution.

Although the Ten Days campaign, led by the future King Willem II, Netherlands is progressing favorably, the growing international pressure on the Netherlands is to grant the Belgians independence. William grudgingly agrees in 1839.

In the Netherlands, the public has become much less enthusiastic about William. He brings the country to the brink of bankruptcy by his spending and reigning preferably by Royal Decree [without telling parliament]. A new constitution is needed after the secession of Belgium, it is seen as an ideal time to curb the power of the king.

William sees it as a double defeat and decides to abdicate in favor of his eldest son. On October 7, he announces at palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn his retirement.

The abdication gives William, now some years a widower, to marry a new love opportunity: Catholic [!], Belgian [!], Countess Henriette d’Oultremont-Wégimont. They live together for three years at Berlin palace Unter der Linden, before William dies in 1843 at the age of 71.

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