Leiden's links with the Dutch Royal Family

Future King Willem-Alexander studied in Leiden, as did his mother, Queen Beatrix. Leiden even has a member of the House of Orange to thank for its original foundation. Leiden academics are specialists in the history of the Royal House. There are also Leiden alumni who work for the royal couple. To mark the succession, the following are a few examples of Leiden's bonds with the Royal House.

Royal Family studied in Leiden

Willem Alexander shows Máxima his signature, written as a graduate in History, on the wall of the aptly named 'Sweat Room' where students used to wait to be summoned to their graduation ceremony.  Foreground: Jan Franssen and Henri Lenferink, Mayor of Leiden.

Willem Alexander shows Máxima his signature, written as a graduate in History, on the wall of the aptly named 'Sweat Room' where students used to wait to be summoned to their graduation ceremony. Foreground: Jan Franssen and Henri Lenferink, Mayor of Leiden.

Willem-Alexander followed in the footsteps of his mother Beatrix, his aunt Margriet and his grandmother Juliana, as a student in Leiden. The Prince graduated in 1993 in History. 'I was always interested in History, but I also took subjects that were going to be useful for me in the future, such as constitutional law, European law and economics. I am now reaping the benefits of my studies in Leiden,' he explained in 1995 in the alumni magazine Leidraad. His brother Constantijn and cousin Floris, the son of Princess Margriet, also chose to study in Leiden. Leiden Honorary Doctorates have been awarded to all three Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Queen Beatrix received her Honorary Doctorate in 2005 for her dedication to freedom of expression and the responsibilities that go hand in hand with this freedom.

Royal allure

Willem Alexander opening the new premises of the Campus The Hague Faculty in 2012.

Willem Alexander opening the new premises of the Campus The Hague Faculty in 2012.

There are close links between the Royal Family and Leiden University. A number of recent examples illustrate this mutual bond: Willem Alexander opened the new premises of Campus The Hague in 2012, with the flourish of a prince preparing for to become king, as we can now say with hindsight. In 2009 Queen Beatrix unveiled a sculpture by Theo van de Vathorst, to mark the opening of the newly renovated Academy Building. Earlier the same year Willem-Alexander and Máxima visited the Hortus botanicus with the Swedish King and Queen. Their visit focused on Swedish botanist Linnaeus and the Systema Naturae devised by him. Leiden archaeologist David Fontijn was received by Queen Beatrix at Het Loo Palace in 2012, when he presented her with his book about burial mounds. Princess Máxima was presented by Professor Lex Peters with the first copy of his book  'A world without Cervical Cancer'. 


Touch of royalty in the Academy Building

Portrait of William of Orange in the Robe Room

Portrait of William of Orange in the Robe Room

The bond with the Royal Family is particularly visible in the Academy Building, the heart of the University. With William of Orange as the founder of the Academia Lugduno Batava, a close bond with the Royal House of Orange is a given. And this bond goes further than following in their footsteps along the Rapenburg. ‘Een vast blochuys ende bewaernisse der gantscher landen’ (English: A firm stronghold for the whole country. ) This is how William of Orange decribed the proposed university to the States of Holland and Zeeland in 1574. The sentence is woven into the carpet of the Senate Room, where PhD candidates are called to defend their dissertation, standing below his portrait. Another portrait of William of Orange watches over Leiden professors as they don their robes for the University's ceremonial occasions. A white marble plaque of Queen Wilhelmina over the door of the Great Auditorium looks down on brand-new professors as they leave the hall after their inaugural lecture. Traces of the Royal House of Orange are also to be found among the masterpieces in the Academy Building Exhibition in the Academic Historical Museum.  


Leiden expertise on the Dutch royal family

Queen Beatrix Honorary Doctor (2005)

Queen Beatrix Honorary Doctor (2005)

Professor of University History Willem Otterspeer writes of the University and its foundation by William of Orange in 1575: 'A polder model, centuries ahead of its time.' Fellow historian and Professor of Dutch History Henk te Velde hazards a guess on 8 January 2011 in a Dutch national newspaper: ‘Beatrix will abdicate in 2013.’ According to Te Velde: ‘The two-hundred-year anniversary of the monarchy is a unique occasion, well suited for the succession.' Te Velde talks of a dual monarchy. About the constitutional aspects of such an eventuality, Leiden Professor of Constitutional Law Wim Voermans comments: ‘Prime Minister Rutte was speaking out of turn by saying that Máxima would become Queen.' And: 'There is nothing in the Constitution about the oath to the King.' Alumni, too, contribute to knowledge about the Royal Family; these include emeritus Professor Cees Fasseur with his two volumes about Queen Wilhelmina, and Royal biographer Dorine Hermans.


A few more details...

Armin van Buuren in alumni magazine Leidraad

Armin van Buuren in alumni magazine Leidraad

Pien Zaaijer studied political science at Campus The Hague in preparation for her new role as adviser to the royal couple. 

Armin van Buuren studied Law in Leiden. The DJ will appear with the Royal Concert Hall orchestra on 30 April in Amsterdam at a concert in honour of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. The royal couple recently attended a concert given by Van Buuren in New York.

Armin van Buuren in Alumni Magazine Leidraad Winter 2011-2012 (in Dutch)


Royal Tour of Leiden

You can now book a Royal Tour of Leiden with the Leiden Gilde. What was the influence of William of Orange (William the Silent) on the city of Leiden? What did the Soldier of Orange have to do with Leiden? Where did Princesses Beatrix and Margriet live when they were students in Leiden? What was going on with Princess Beatrix's car? Where is the Prince Willem-Alexander canal? You can even visit the Prince's favourite pubs.

Leiden and the House of Orange tour (in Dutch)

Royal Linden tree 30 April

A royal Linden tree will be planted in honour of the succession, just a few houses from where Prince Willem-Alexander used to live in Leiden. The municipality of Leiden is to plant the tree in the garden of the Oude Bibliotheek at Rapenburg 70. The tree, ringed by a fence with natural stone edging, will be unveiled on Tuesday 30 April at 16.00 hrs.

(18 April 2013)


Last Modified: 14-05-2013