Willem-Alexander: A tale of two monarchs

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Queen Elizabeth II

The eyes of the world will be on the Netherlands on Tuesday when Willem-Alexander becomes king in a secular ceremony that is an investiture rather than a coronation. How does such a modern monarchy compare with the more traditional system in the UK?

A king and a queen

Compare and contrast King-to-be, Willem-Alexander Queen Elizabeth II

At a glance

The Crown Prince, 46, becomes the first king of the Netherlands since 1890, following the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix, after 33 years on the throne

The Queen, 87, is the UK's second-longest-serving monarch behind her great-great-grandmother, Victoria. She has been on the throne for 61 years

Given name

Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary


The King of the Netherlands - he has refused to be called Willem IV as he doesn't want to be a number

Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

How to address

"Your Majesty" is optional - he wants people to feel at ease

"Your Majesty" and subsequently "Ma'am"

Exotic spouse

Princess Maxima

An Argentine investment banker, Princess Maxima, soon to be Her Majesty, Queen of the Netherlands

Prince Philip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles prior to the engagement in 1947


At several state schools, and the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, then Leiden University to study history. Speaks English and German

Privately at home by her father and Henry Marten, the Vice-Provost of Eton, and also instructed in religion by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Speaks French

Monarch of...

Willem-Alexander in Curacao

Netherlands, Curacao (pictured), Aruba and Saint Maarten

The Queen and Commonwealth leaders

UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, plus some overseas territories


Willem-Alexander will be sworn in at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam in a secular ceremony. The inauguration takes the form of a meeting of the upper and lower houses of parliament - as set down in the constitution. There will be a limited number of other guests. The crown, sceptre and orb, as well as the kingdom's sword, symbolising his power, will be laid out, with a copy of the constitution. But the crown will not be placed on his head and is never worn.

Three million spectators lined the streets to see the coronation procession of foreign heads of state making their way to Westminster Abbey. The young princess arrived in a gold state coach, wearing a 5.5m-long robe of state. There were 8,000 guests in the abbey, where the coronation oath was administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the new Queen departed with the traditional orb and sceptres, and wearing the imperial state crown.


Dutch carriage Royal carriage

Sporting interests

  • Ran the New York marathon
  • Enjoys skiing, cycling and football
Willem-Alexander skiing
  • Loves riding horses
  • Breeds thoroughbreds
Queen riding

Own words

"Even what some people sarcastically dismiss as 'cutting ribbons' can have real substance. If you are careful about choosing which ribbons to cut, which events to attend... these choices can have real substance, showing what you stand for and what you think is important for the Netherlands"

"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong" - 21st birthday message to the Commonwealth

Historic connections

His predecessor as Prince of Orange invaded England and installed himself as William III (William II in Scotland) in 1689 - known as the Glorious Revolution

Elizabeth II is a descendant of both Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange (1687-1711), and of King George II (1683-1760) - as is Willem-Alexander

Also seen...

At a geothermal station

At water conferences and projects worldwide - he specialised in water management after graduating from Leiden University

Helicopter jump at the Olympics

Starring in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, greeting Daniel Craig with the words "Good evening Mr Bond" (but a lookalike parachuted into the stadium)

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