Areas of interest until investiture
Water management, infrastructure and ICT
The King was active in the field of water management, both at home and abroad, from 1997 until his investiture.
He was first a member of and, as of 2000, chair of the Dutch Integrated Water Management Commission, which became the Water Advisory Committee in 2004. This independent committee of experts gives advice on water management to the minister concerned, acting either in response to a request or on its own initiative. Its recommendations are usually on the feasibility of water policy and its financial and social impact. Of particular importance in this respect is the Delta Programme, which was launched to keep the Netherlands safe with regard to, among other things, the consequences of climate change.
King Willem-Alexander was also active in the field of water management at international level. In 1998, he became the patron of the Global Water Partnership. In 2000 he was Chair of the Second World Water Forum in The Hague. In 2006 he was asked by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to succeed the former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto as chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB).
UNSGAB provides the Secretary-General with independent advice, and lobbies worldwide for practical measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation. The UN has set itself the aim of halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. In this context, UNSGAB focuses in particular on practical measures in the field of integrated water management, funding and monitoring progress. It also devotes attention to the problem of sanitation, and water-related disasters. As chair of UNSGAB, the King visited numerous countries, organisations and international meetings to turn the spotlight on these problems and UNSGAB's views. In 2012 the Secretary-General decided to extend UNSGAB's mandate to 2015, when the global community will make a decision on new development goals.
Both nationally and internationally, water management is closely connected with other sectors, such as spatial planning and infrastructure, agriculture and sustainable energy. King Willem-Alexander was extremely interested in these subjects too, and in the relationship between them.
He is also interested in innovation and ICT. As a member of the Advisory Council of ECP, the information society forum for government, business and civil society, the King, in the years prior to his investiture, undertook regular working visits to keep abreast of new digital applications in various social and economic sectors.
King Willem-Alexander has a passion for sport. He is not only a sportsman himself, but was for many years involved professionally with sport, both in the Netherlands and abroad.
From 1995 to 1998 the King (then still the Prince of Orange) was patron of the Netherlands Olympic Committee * Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF). From 1998 to 2013 he was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but resigned on his accession to the throne. On his appointment as an honorary member of the IOC in September 2013 in Buenos Aires, he was presented with the Olympic Order in Gold by Jacques Rogge, the then President of the IOC.
As a member of the IOC, King Willem-Alexander attended the annual meetings and all Olympic Games, acting as an observer at some of the contests. Within the IOC, the King sat successively on various commissions, including the Olympic Solidarity Commission from 1999 to 2003, the Nominations Commission in 2000, the 2000 Reform Follow-up Commission in 2002, the Vancouver 2010 Coordination Commission (whose marketing and communications working group he chaired from 2003 to 2010) and finally the IOC's Marketing Commission, a post he held until 2013.
King Willem-Alexander has a special relationship with the Dutch armed forces. Until his investiture, he held the rank of Commodore in the Royal Netherlands Navy Reserve, Brigadier General in the Royal Netherlands Army Reserve and Air Commodore in the Royal Netherlands Air Force Reserve. Before his investiture, King Willem-Alexander was at his request granted an honourable discharge and relinquished his active military status. As head of state and a member of the government, the King can no longer hold an active military position in the armed forces. He was also Aide-de-Camp Extraordinary to Her Majesty the Queen from 1990 until his investiture in 2013.
The King does, however, retain the right to wear a uniform on suitable ceremonial occasions, as a former member of the armed forces granted an honourable discharge. The uniform is based on that of the flag and general officers of the armed services but without insignia of rank. The braid or epaulette has been replaced by a new royal insignia, a heraldic figure composed of the orb, the sword of state and the sceptre.
Every year, the King visited units and staffs of all three armed forces and paid regular visits to troops on manoeuvres or missions abroad. He visited the Dutch units in Afghanistan on four occasions, and briefly sailed on board HNLMS Evertsen and HNLMS Rotterdam as they patrolled the waters off the coast of Somalia as part of the EU's anti-piracy mission.
King Willem-Alexander was, until his investiture, patron of Veterans' Day and, as King, continues to take the salute at the annual Veterans' Day parade in The Hague.