1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/William III., King of the Netherlands

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WILLIAM III. (1817-1890), king of the Netherlands, son of William II., was born at Brussels on the 19th of February 1817. He married in 1839 Sophia, daughter of William I., king of Württemberg. Sophia was an accomplished woman of high intelligence, but unfortunately the relations between the royal, pair were far from cordial and finally ended in complete disagreement, and the breach between them continued until the death of the queen in 1877. The private life of the king in fact gave rise to much scandal; nevertheless he was an excellent constitutional monarch, and, though he never sought to win popular favour, succeeded in winning and retaining in a remarkable degree his people's affectionate loyalty. He had no sympathy with political liberalism, but throughout his long reign of forty-two years, with a constant interchange of ministries and many ministerial crises, he never had a serious conflict with the states-general, and his ministers could always count upon his fair-mindedness and an earnest desire to help them to further the national welfare. He was economical, and gave up a third of his civil list in order to help forward the task of establishing an equilibrium in the annual budget, and he was always ready from his large private fortune to help forward all schemes for the social or industrial progress of the country. It was largely due to his prudent diplomacy that Holland passed pacifically through the difficult period of the Luxemburg settlement in 1866 and the Franco-German War of 1870.

William III. had two sons by bis marriage with Sophia of Württemberg, William (1841-1879), and Alexander (1843-1884). Both of them died unmarried. The decease of Prince Alexander left the house of Orange without a direct heir male, but the prospect of a disputed succession had fortunately been averted by the marriage^ of the king in 1S79 with the princess Emma of Waldcck-Pyrmont. From this union a daughter, Wilhelmina, was born in 1S80. On her father's death at the Loo, on the 23rd of November 1890, she succeeded as queen of the Netherlands under the regency of her mother.

William was grand duke of Luxemburg by a personal title, and his death severed the dynastic relation between the kingdom of the Netherlands and the grand duchy. The sovereignty of the Luxemburg duchy passed to the next heir male of the house of Nassau, Adolphus, ex-duke of Nassau.

See J. A . Bruijne, Geschiedenis van Nederland in omen tijd. (5 vols., Schiedam, 1889-1906); P. Blok, Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Volk (Leiden, 1908), vol. viii.; and G. L. Keppers, De regeering van Koning Willem III. (Groningen, 1887).

(G. E.)