William III of the Netherlands

William III of the Netherlands

Infobox Dutch Royalty|monarch
name = William III
full name = Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk
title = King of the Netherlands; Grand Duke of Luxembourg; Duke of Limburg

succession = King of the Netherlands
reign = 1849-1890
coronation =
predecessor = William II
successor = Wilhelmina
succession1 = Grand Duke of Luxembourg
reign1 = 1849-1890
predecessor1 = William II
successor1 = Adolphe
spouse = Sophie of Württemberg
Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont
issue = Prince William
Prince Maurice
Alexander, Prince of Orange
royal house = House of Orange-Nassau
royal anthem = Wilhelmus
father = William II of the Netherlands
mother = Anna Pavlovna of Russia
date of birth = birth date|1817|2|17|mf=y
place of birth = Brussels
date of death = death date and age|1890|11|23|1817|2|17|mf=y
place of death = Het Loo, near Apeldoorn
place of burial= Nieuwe Kerk, Delft|

William III ("Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk", anglicised: "William Alexander Paul Frederick Louis of Orange-Nassau") (February 19, 1817 – November 23, 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 Russians 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 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.


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.

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.He tried to sell the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1867. The attempt nearly caused a war between Prussia and France, and helped make Luxembourg a fully-independent country.

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

In 1877, Queen Sophie died and years of war in the palace came to an end. 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. 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, a sister of England's Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) and of Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia.

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


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


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:
* "Willem" Nicolaas Alexander Frederik Karel Hendrik (1840-1879). Heir to the Throne from 1849 till his death.
* Willem Frederik "Maurits" Alexander Hendrik Karel (1843-1850).
* Willem "Alexander" Karel Hendrik Frederik (1851-1884). Heir to the Throne from 1879 till his death.
* Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria (1880 - 1962). Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 - 1948.

ee also

*Dutch monarchs family tree


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