Prince Claus of the Netherlands

Prince Claus of the Netherlands
Prince Claus in 1979
Prince consort of the Netherlands
Tenure 30 April 1980 – 6 October 2002
Spouse Beatrix of the Netherlands
m. 1966; wid. 2002
Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
Prince Friso
Prince Constantijn
Full name
Claus George Willem Otto Frederik Geert van Amsberg
House House of Amsberg
Father Count Claus Felix von Amsberg
Mother Baroness Julie von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
Born 6 September 1926(1926-09-06)
Hitzacker, Weimar Republic
Died 6 October 2002 (aged 76)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Burial 15 October 2002
Nieuwe Kerk, Delft
Occupation Diplomat
Religion Protestantism

Claus George Willem Otto Frederik Geert van Amsberg (6 September 1926 – 6 October 2002), later Prince Claus of the Netherlands, was a German-born aristocrat who became the husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.


He was born at the family estate Haus Dötzingen near Hitzacker, Weimar Republic as Klaus-Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg. His parents were Klaus Felix von Amsberg and Gösta Julie Adelheid Marion Marie Baroness von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen. His father operated a large farm in Tanganyika from 1928 until World War II. Claus and his six sisters grew up at their grandparents' manor in Lower Saxony. Claus also attended a boarding school in Tanzania from 1936 to 1938. He was also a member of Nazi youth organisations such as Deutsches Jungvolk and the Hitler Youth (the latter being mandatory for all fit members of his generation). From 1938 until 1942, he attended the Baltenschule Misdroy.

In 1944, he was conscripted into the German Wehrmacht. He became a member of the German 90th Panzergrenadier Division in Italy in March 1945, but was taken as a prisoner of war by the U.S. at Meran before taking part in any fighting. After his repatriation, he finished school in Lüneburg and studied law in Hamburg. He joined the German diplomatic corps and worked in Santo Domingo and Côte d'Ivoire. In the 1960s, he was transferred to Bonn.

Claus and Beatrix met at the wedding-eve party of Princess Tatjana of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse in the summer of 1964. Sections of the Dutch population were unhappy that Beatrix's fiancé was a German, only twenty years after the end of the war and there were protests during the wedding celebrations, notably by the anarchist-artist group Provo. The two married on 10 March 1966.

Over time, Claus became accepted by the public, so much so that in the last part of his life he was generally considered the most popular member of the Royal Family.

Reasons for this change in Dutch opinion were his strong motivation to contribute to public causes, especially third world development (on which he was considered an expert), his sincere modesty, his candidness (within, but sometimes on the edge of, Royal protocol), and his approachability to all layers of society.

The public also sympathised with Claus for his efforts to give meaning to his life beyond the restrictions that Dutch law imposed on the Royal Family's freedom of speech and action (lest they get involved in political controversy). Many also believed that these restrictions were at least partly the cause of his severe depression, which lasted many years. As a result, restrictions were loosened; Claus was even appointed as senior staff member at the Department of Developing Aid, albeit in an advisory role.

A fine example of his mildly-rebellious attitude toward protocol was the "Declaration of the Tie." In 1998, after presenting the annual Prince Claus Awards to three African fashion designers, Claus told "workers of all nations to unite and cast away the new shackles they have voluntarily cast upon themselves", meaning the necktie, that "snake around my neck," and encouraged the audience to "venture into open-collar paradise". Then Claus removed his tie and threw it to the ground. In 2001, when on Dutch television he announced the marriage of his son Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands an Argentine woman of Spanish and Italian ancestry on Dutch television, he referred to himself as a world citizen in the first place, more than anything else, setting an example as a modern-thinking man.

Titles and style

  • Mr. Klaus von Amsberg (1926-1965)
  • Jhr. Claus van Amsberg (1965-1966). His name was officially changed after obtaining Dutch citizenship
  • His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Jonkheer van Amsberg (1966-2002)
  • His Royal Highness The Prince of the Netherlands (1980-2002). As a prince consort of a Queen of the Netherlands Prince Claus was legally entitled to this style and title, though out of respect of his father-in-law Prince Bernhard, he never officially used this title.


16. Joachim von Amsberg
8. Gabriel von Amsberg
17. Anna Bernitt
4. Wilhelm von Amsberg
18. Wilhelm von Passow
9. Marie von Passow
19. Auguste von Bülow
2. Klaus Felix von Amsberg
20. Matthias von Vieregge
10. Leopold von Vieregge
21. Elise von Oldershausen
5. Elise von Vieregge
22. Felix von Gutschmidt
11. Baroness Agnes von Gutschmid
23. Cecilie von Bassewitz
1. Prince Claus of the Netherlands
24. Baron Ludwig von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
12. Baron Julius von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
25. Elise von Malortie
6. Baron George von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
26. Heinrich von Salviati
13. Juliana Augusta Henriette Mathilde von Salviati
27. Caroline Rahlenbeck
3. Baroness Gösta von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
28. Clamor von dem Bussche-Ippenburg
14. Baron Friedrich Gustav Eberhard von dem Bussche-Ippenburg
29. Amalie Dorothee Michaelis
7. Baroness Gabriele von dem Bussche-Ippenburg
30. Franz von Chelius
15. Barbara Warinka von Chelius
31. Maria Anna Josephe Eleanore Minet


Name Birth Notes
Prince Willem-Alexander 27 April 1967 is married to Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti since 2002, has issue (three daughters)
Prince Friso 25 September 1968 is married to Mabel Wisse since 2004, has issue (two daughters)
Prince Constantijn 11 October 1969 is married to Laurentien Brinkhorst since 2001, has issue (two daughters and one son)


Funeral of Prince Claus

Claus suffered various health problems during his life, such as depression, cancer and Parkinson's disease. He died in Amsterdam on 6 October 2002 after a long illness, aged 76.

His embalmed body was placed in the Royal Family's tomb in Delft on October 15. It was the first full state funeral since Queen Wilhelmina's in 1962.

Prince Claus of the Netherlands
Born: 6 September 1926 Died: 6 October 2002
Dutch royalty
Preceded by
Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
Prince consort of the Netherlands
30 April 1980 – 6 October 2002

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