Willem-Alexander, the Netherland’s first king since 1890, will be 46 when he ascends to the throne on April 30.
Willem-Alexander was born on April 27, 1967 with a string of titles and lived in the Drakensteyn castle near Hilversum until his mother became queen. The family then moved to The Hague.
The prince attended a normal primary and secondary school and then went to the United World College of the Atlantic in Llantwit Major in Wales where he passed his International Baccalaureate in 1985.
The prince did two years of military service with the navy and in 1987 started a history degree course at Leiden University. He graduated in 1993, after collecting the nickname Prince Pils (beer) for his love of partying.
On July 3, 2001, he controversially married Máxima Zorreguieta, the daughter of a former member of Argentina’s military junta. The couple have three children, Catharina-Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.
The couple hit the headlines in 2009 when their decision to buy a holiday house on an exclusive development in Mozambique was heavily criticised. The house has since been sold.
Willem-Alexander has since taken a more international role. He is chairman of the UN secretary general’s advisory board on water and sanitation and was embarrassed last year when he took part in a toilet-throwing contest.
‘I joined in on April 30 for a laugh but not without thinking with some embarrassment about the 2.6 billion people on earth who do not have the most basic structures to perform their daily needs in a decent way,’ the prince was quoted as saying.
He is also a keen sports fan and the only Dutch member of the International Olympic Committee. His exuberance at sports events, during which he has climbed over barriers to congratulate the winners, has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Using the name W A van Buren he has taken part in the New York marathon and in the Elfstedentocht, the 200 km skating race around the 11 cities of Friesland.Willem-Alexander, Máxima and their daughters. Photo: RVD Keen on his privacy, the prince and his wife have taken legal action against photographers who have taken pictures of them and their children on holidays.
Commentators on Monday said Willem-Alexander is likely to be a headstrong monarch, like his mother. ‘But he has been well-prepared for the role’, one said.
Others pointed out that when asked as a young man about his future role, he said he hoped it would be delayed as long as possible.
Although many expected the prince would take the title Willem IV, the prince will be known as king Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima will have the title queen.
Other changes will take place as well. Queen’s Day will become King’s Day starting in 2014 and will be celebrated on April 27th, Willem-Alexander’s birthday.