History of the monarchy
The first Kingdom – the Kingdom of Holland, with Napoleon’s brother Louis as its King – lasted only four years (1806-1810). Three years later, in 1813, the Netherlands regained its independence, and Prince Willem Frederik, son of the last stadholder Willem V, returned from exile and was proclaimed sovereign prince. The first constitution of the Netherlands as a monarchy dates from 1814.
King Willem I
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna decided that the northern and southern provinces should be united. Willem Frederik proclaimed himself King Willem I of the new Kingdom of the Netherlands. The southern provinces seceded in 1830, and with the signing of the Treaty of London in 1839 the Netherlands recognised the new, independent, Kingdom of Belgium.
King Willem III
Until 1839 Luxembourg too formed part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In that year it became a Grand Duchy, with the King of the Netherlands as its Grand Duke. This personal union came to an end in 1890. When King Willem III died that year, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg passed to the head of the other branch of the House of Nassau, since his daughter Wilhelmina, as a female, had no right of succession.
Until after the Second World War, the Kingdom of the Netherlands also comprised a significant number of overseas territories: the Dutch East Indies in Asia, Suriname in South America and the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean. A process of decolonisation followed in the post-war period. In 1949 Queen Juliana signed the treaty transferring sovereignty over the former Dutch East Indies to the Republic of Indonesia, thus recognising Indonesia as an independent state. New Guinea remained in Dutch hands until 1962; in 1963 it was transferred to Indonesia by the United Nations.
Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands
On 15 December 1954, Queen Juliana signed the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, whereby Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles acquired the status of countries within the Kingdom, with autonomous powers over their own internal affairs. Since then 15 December has been celebrated as Kingdom Day. In 1975 Suriname left the Kingdom, becoming an independent republic.
Caribbean part of the Kingdom
In 1986 Aruba, one of the six islands of the Netherlands Antilles, acquired separate status as a country within the Kingdom. On 10 October 2010 Curaçao and St Maarten likewise became separate countries, while the remaining three islands – Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba – acquired the status of public bodies and now form part of the Dutch polity.