European Royalty: The Dutch Monarchy--Willem II (1839-1849)

Figure 1.--This is King Willem II and his family (1832). From left to right: future King Willem III (181790), Prince Alexander (181848), King Willem II (17921849), Queen Anna Paulovna (17951865), Princess Sophie (182497) and Prince Hendrik (182079). The artist is Jan Baptist van der Hulst (1790-1862). He was a Flemish painter and lithographer. His works include numerous Dutch royals as well historical paintings.

Orangist Willem I was succeeded by his son Willem II, King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg. Willem is surely one of the more important kings in Dutch historry because itvwas during his reign that the country became a parlimentary democracy. Willem Frederik George Lodewijk (William Frederick George Louis) was born in the Hague during the French Revolution which shattered monarchial Europe. He was son of Willem I and Wilhelmine of Prussia. The Revolution would determine much of his life. His family was forced to flee to Britauin after allied British-Hanoverian troops left the Republic. French Revolutionary troops defeated the small army of the United Provinces. They proclaimed the Netherlands to be liberated and joined the anti-Orangist Patriots in forming he Batavian Republic. It look like the long Orange line in he Netherlands had ended. Willem and his mother was Prussian, spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court. His father courted Napoleon and gor a time hada principlaity within the Holy Roman Empire. Willem pursued a military education like a Prussianm prince and served in the Prussian Army. He was thus prepared for military service in the final years of the Napoleonic Wars. He studied civil law at Christ Church, University of Oxford, but decided to get involved in the fighting as he began to see the possibility of regaining possession of the Netherlnds. . He served in the British Army under Wellington (1811) and proved popular. He was appointed aude-decamp to the Prince Regent. He was senior officer of the Allied army in the Low Countries when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba (1815). He relinquished command on the arrival of the Duke of Wellington, but played an important role at Waterloo--his first real battle. His father had ruled as sovereign prince, and proclaimed himself king (1815). His son became Prince of Orange as heir apparent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. When his father abdicated, Willem II became king. He oversaw the transition to parliamentary democracy with the new constitution of 1848. The Netherlands like other European countries were affected by the demands for liberal reform which swept Europe in 1848. Historians suspect that blackmail was at least partially involved in the Willem's acquiesence as a result of his sexual proclivities, not the most glamerous priocess for the birh of democracy. With the overhaul of the constitution in 1848, the King from now on could do no wrong. From that moment on the secretaries of State were responsible to the elected representatives of the people. The new constitution shaped the basis of the present constitutional monarchy with a parlementary system. Willem was a sutor to Princess Princess Charlotte of Wales, heir to the British throne, but married Anna Pavlovna of Russia, the youngest sister to Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The Tsar arranged the marriage to seal the good relations between Imperial Russia and the Netherlands. . They had four sons and one daughter. Willem died (1849) and was succeeded by his son Willem III.


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Created: 4:01 PM 10/12/2018
Last updated: 4:01 PM 10/12/2018