William III of the Netherlands

William III
King William III of the Netherlands in coronation robes by Nicolaas Pieneman (1856)
King of the Netherlands
Reign 1849–1890
Predecessor William II
Successor Wilhelmina
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Reign 1849–1890
Predecessor William II
Successor Adolphe
Duke of Limburg
Reign 1849–1866
Predecessor William II
Successor none (Duchy abolished)
Spouse Sophie of Württemberg
Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont
Issue
Prince William
Prince Maurice
Alexander, Prince of Orange
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Full name
Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk
House House of Orange-Nassau
Father William II of the Netherlands
Mother Anna Pavlovna of Russia
Born February 17, 1817(1817-02-17)
Brussels
Died November 23, 1890 (aged 73)
Het Loo, near Apeldoorn
Burial Nieuwe Kerk, Delft
Dutch Royalty
House of Orange-Nassau

Coat of arms of the Netherlands.svg

William I
Children
   William II
   Prince Frederick
   Princess Paulina
   Marianne, Princess Albert of Prussia
Grandchildren
   Louise, Queen of Sweden and Norway
   Prince William
   Prince Frederick
   Marie, Princess of Wied
William II
Children
   William III
   Prince Alexander
   Prince Henry
   Prince Ernest Casimir
   Sophie, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
William III
Children
   William, Prince of Orange
   Prince Maurice
   Alexander, Prince of Orange
   Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina
Children
   Juliana
Juliana
Children
   Beatrix
   Princess Irene
   Princess Margriet
   Princess Christina
Beatrix
Children
   Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
   Prince Friso
   Prince Constantijn
Grandchildren
   Princess Catharina-Amalia
   Princess Alexia
   Princess Ariane
   Countess Luana
   Countess Zaria
   Countess Eloise
   Count Claus-Casimir
   Countess Leonore

William III (Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk, anglicised: William Alexander Paul Frederick Louis of Orange-Nassau) (19 February 1817 – 23 November 1890) was from 1849 King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg until his death and the Duke of Limburg until the abolition of the Duchy in 1866.

Early life

William was born in Brussels as son of William II of the Netherlands and Queen Anna Paulowna, daughter of Tsar Paul I of all the Russias and Empress Maria Fyodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg). In his early years, he served in the military.

He married his first cousin, Sophie, daughter of King William I of Württemberg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, in Stuttgart on 18 June 1839. This marriage was unhappy and was characterized by struggles about their children. Sophie was a liberal intellectual, hating everything leaning toward dictatorship, such as the army. William was simpler, more conservative, and loved the military. He prohibited intellectual exercise at home, for which action Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who corresponded with Sophie, called him an uneducated farmer. (His extramarital enthusiasms, however, led the New York Times to call him "the greatest debauchee of the age".) Another cause of marital tension (and later political tension) was his capriciousness; he could rage against someone one day, and be extremely polite the next.

William loathed the 1848 constitutional changes initiated by his father (William II) and Johan Rudolf Thorbecke. William II and Sophie saw them as key to the monarchy's survival in changing times. William himself saw them as useless limitations of royal power, and wished to govern like his grandfather, William I.

He tried to relinquish his right to the throne to his younger brother Henry. His mother convinced him to cancel this action. One year later (1849) William became King upon the death of his father.

Reign

King William III repeatedly contemplated abdicating as soon as his eldest son William, Prince of Orange turned eighteen. This occurred in 1858, but as William was uncomfortable making a decision he remained King. His first act was the inauguration of the parliamentary cabinet of Thorbecke, the liberal designer of the 1848 constitution, whom William loathed.


Silver 2½ Guilder Coin of William III, struck in 1857. The obverse Dutch inscription is WILLEM III KONING DER NED[ERLANDEN] G[ROOT] H[ERTOG] V[AN] L[UXEMBURG] or in English, "William III, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg." The reverse Dutch inscription is MUNT VAN HET KONINGRYK DER NEDERLANDEN, or in English, "Currency of the Kingdom of the Netherlands."

When the Roman 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, installing royal cabinets which ruled briefly as there was no support in elected parliament.

In 1856, William unilaterally instituted a new, reactionary constitution for Luxembourg in what has become known as the 'Coup of 1856'. He tried to sell the grand duchy in 1867, leading to the Luxembourg Crisis, which almost precipitated war between Prussia and France. However, the subsequent Second Treaty of London reestablished Luxembourg as a fully independent country.

The King was popular with the ordinary people, presenting himself as a cordial man.

He was the 963rd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain in 1842, the 777th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1882 and the 72nd Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.

In 1877, Queen Sophie died and years of war in the palace came to an end. In the same year, King William announces his intention to marry Eleonore d'Ambre, a French opera singer, whom he ennobled as countess d'Ambroise – without government consent. Under pressure from the government, he abandoned his marriage plans. In 1879, King William decided to marry Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, a small German principality. Some politicians were quite angry, as she was 41 years the king's junior. Emma showed herself, however, as a cordial woman; and when William asked permission from parliament, this was easily granted and the couple were quickly married in Arolsen on 7 January 1879. She was not his first choice. He had previously been rejected by her sister, Princess Pauline of Waldeck and Pyrmont, as well as Princess Thyra of Denmark.

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. Many potential heirs had died between 1878 and 1884.

King William became seriously ill in 1887. However in 1888, he managed to personally hand over a gold medal of honour to naval hero Dorus Rijkers for saving the lives of 20 people.

He died in Het Loo in 1890. Because Wilhelmina had not yet reached adulthood, Emma became regent for her daughter. She would remain regent until Wilhelmina's eighteenth birthday in 1898. Because the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg could only be inherited through the male line at the time, under Salic law, it went to Adolphe, the former Duke of Nassau.

Ancestry

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
16. William IV, Prince of Orange
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. William V, Prince of Orange
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
17. Anne, Princess Royal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. William I of the Netherlands
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
18. Prince Augustus William of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. Wilhelmina of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
19. Louise Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. William II of the Netherlands
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
20. Prince Augustus William of Prussia (= 18)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10. Frederick William II of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
21. Louise Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg (= 19)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. Wilhelmine of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
22. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11. Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
23. Caroline of Zweibrücken
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1. William III of the Netherlands
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
24. Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
12. Peter III of Russia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
25. Anna Petrovna of Russia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Paul I of Russia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
26. Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
13. Catherine II of Russia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
27. Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Anna Pavlovna of Russia
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
28. Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
14. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
29. Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7. Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
30. Margrave Frederick William of Brandenburg-Schwedt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
15. Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
31. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Prussia
 
 
 
 
 
 

Children

Of William III's children, only three reached adulthood, two sons from his marriage to Queen Sophie and one daughter from his marriage to Queen Emma:

William III of the Netherlands
Born: 17 February 1817 Died: 23 November 1890
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William II
King of the Netherlands
1849–1890
Succeeded by
Wilhelmina
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
1849–1890
Succeeded by
Adolphe
Duke of Limburg
1849–1866
Abolished
Dutch royalty
Preceded by
William, Prince of Orange
later became King William II
Prince of Orange
1840–1849
Succeeded by
William, Prince of Orange
Heir to the Dutch throne
as heir apparent
1840–1849



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