King Willem Alexander has been the head of state of the Netherlands for nine years now, but there is more to it than “just” being King to him. The following are interesting facts about the life of King Willem Alexander.
From secretly flying KLM planes to earning the nickname “Prince of Pils” while in college, King Willem Alexander has had an exciting life, that’s for sure.
Facts 1: King Willem Alexander attended fairly ordinary schools (for a future king)
For a future king, Willem Alexander had a reasonably ordinary upbringing. He was born at the Academic Hospital in Utrecht and attended primary school in Baarn. After his family moved, he participated at the Eerste Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum in The Hague for high school and was placed in a ‘regular’ class.
His parents, Beatrix (then Queen of the Netherlands) and Claus insisted that Willem Alexander should not receive preferential treatment from his teachers.
Facts 2: He studied history at Leiden University.
In 1987, Willem Alexander began studying at this oldest university in the Netherlands and completed his Master’s program in 1993.
He wrote his final thesis on how the Netherlands responded to France’s decision to leave NATO’s integrated command structure. Useful for someone who is named head of state!
Studying at Leiden University seems to be a Dutch royal tradition, as Willem’s mother, Princess Beatrix, and his grandmother also learned there.
Facts 3: In his late teens, King Willem Alexander fled the Netherlands for a time.
As a teenager, Willem Alexander found the pressures of being heir to the throne a bit overwhelming. He cycles to high school every day, and often tries to escape from detectives recruited by the royal family to keep him safe.
Then he, along with his parents, decided that it would be good for him to escape the Netherlands for a while. He completed his secondary education at Atlantic University in Wales.
Facts 4: King Willem Alexander used to be nicknamed “Prince Pils”.
During his college life, Willem Alexander was nicknamed the “Prince of Pils,” to his displeasure, according to NOS. He is a member of the notorious student association Minerva.
It was a difficult time for the then-prince, as gossip magazines scrutinized his private life, and especially his drinking activities.
Facts 5: Queen Máxima didn’t know he was a king when they first met.
When the King first ran into his future wife, Queen Máxima, he did not at first tell her who he was. The couple met at the 1999 Seville Festival in Spain. When he first introduced himself to Máxima, he said his name was merely Alexander – when in reality, he was Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange.
When he finally told the queen his title, she thought he was joking!
Facts 6: He proposed to Queen Máxima while skating.
The King seems to be a bit romantic, as he proposed to Queen Máxima while the two were skating on the frozen Huis Ten Bosch. Last year, he recreated that Valentine’s Day moment and shared it with the public on Instagram – you have to admit, it was pretty sweet.