THE DYING DUTCH KING
The Frail Little Girl Who Will Succeed to the Throne of the Netherlands.
The condition of the King of the Netherlands justifies the haste with which the regency bill was got through the Dutch parliament. His majesty is in that state when doctors can do no more than keep pain at a distance. A kill-and-cure remedy would at his age, and seeing what a life he has led, be an immediate death. The constitution is broken down entirely. This being so, you may, without being a doctor, imagine what a fearful grip the disease which killed Cromwell and Napoleon III must have on him. I can’t say I feel much sympathy for Queen Emma. She has her reward in a big pension, a big jointure, and heaps of diamonds, which somehow did not get into the clutches of the fair warblers who graduated at the king’s conservatoire for vocal music.
Where Nemesis catches her is in the weakling girl upon whose young head the crown may in a few days, or even hours, descend. The heiress to the throne is a pale winter-blossom, very sweet, very graceful, having that refinement which shows a worn-out race, a precocious mind, and a hypersensitive nature. With her frail body and hereditary antecedents, her crown and all the good things which are to accompany it can secure her small happiness. There is nothing that clings to blood like neurosis, which is often an element of genius, as the pearl in the oyster is the product of a disease. The neurosis of Paul I showed itself in many ways in the king of the Netherlands (his grandson) and the late prince of Orange, who was doubly descended from Paul, and, of course, from Catherine II. London Times. Rocky Mountain News [Denver, CO] 4 November 1888: p. 19
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:
That “frail little girl” was the steel tulip Queen Wilhelmina [1880-1962] who reigned longer than any Dutch monarch and saw her country through two World Wars and the decline of her country’s colonial empire. From her government in exile in England, she was an inspiration to her people and to the Dutch Resistance with her radio broadcasts. Churchill described her as the only real man among the governments-in-exile in London.
Her father, King William III, dying in the article above, was a more dubious proposition. Although her Majesty the Queen has no more loyal subject, one will always find Mrs Daffodil ready with tales of the eccentricities and dissipations of the crowned heads of Europe.
It is the poverty of the family that has been accountable for some of the strange marriages of the princesses, notably that of Princess Emma, when 21 years of age, to the wicked, repulsive looking and frightfully dissipated old King William III of the Netherlands, who was 63 but who looked at least ten years older. Her married life was not happy, owing to his frightful irascibility, and her situation was rendered absolutely intolerable, when, a year before his actual demise, he fell into a cataleptic trance, was proclaimed dead and then came to life again, with all his wits about him, to find that she had donned widow’s weeds and had assumed the reins of government as regent. Kansas City [MO] Star 20 October 1918: p. 1
KING WILLIAM III End of a Career of Continued Licentiousness.
By His Death the Ancient House of Orange is Extinct—His Alliances, Matrimonial and Otherwise.
That terrible modern disease, mental paresis, found a fresh victim in the person of William III, King of the Netherland, who died last week, though he had already been practically retired from his monarchical calling by the joint action of the two branches of the Dutch legislature. The wonder is that this inevitable ending to a career of reckless dissipation did not set in much earlier, for the king had attained the age of 73 years
That William III should have combined so many peculiar traits, prompting every species of vagary, is principally due to his ancestry on the maternal side. His mother was a daughter of the Emperor Paul of Russia, one of the most dissolute monarchs in Europe. The Dutch king’s waywardness antedates his accession to the throne in 1849, for it is current talk among the Dutch that when the prime minister, after William II’s death, went in search of the new sovereign, then absent abroad, he found him after much difficulty traveling incognito with a French singer among the Highlands of Scotland. His married life, at least that portion of it which he passed with his first wife, a daughter of the king of Wurttemberg, was not a happy one to either husband or wife. The latter was an amiable and gifted woman, but too much of a blue stocking to suit her pleasure loving lord. She gave up trying to reform him and sought consolation in the society of artists and men and women of letters. Her friendship for John Lathrop Motley, American minister at The Hague and author of the “Rise and Fall of the Dutch Republic,” was one of the rays of sunshine in the life of that great writer.
Of the two sons born of the royal union the elder proved himself possessed of his father’s traits by making Paris his home and leading the riotous existence of the glided youth of that city. The nightly orgies of himself and his companions alternated between “Peters,” in the Passage des Princes, and the renowned Bignon’s. It was on one of these occasion, I believe, that the Duc de Grammont Caderousse, in arising to toast the Prince of Orange by which title the Dutch heir apparent was known, solemnly filled his glass and drank to the health of—Citron (lemon). Hereafter this nickname clung tenaciously to the prince so much so that one of his numerous editors in presenting his bill in advertently addressed it to the “Prince of Lemons,” for which involuntary blunder he was promptly thrown out by the attendants. Poor Citron’s constitution was not that of his father and so he succumbed at the age of 30, leaving debts to the tune of several millions. His younger and rigidly virtuous brother followed him into the unknown not long after and thus robbed the moralists of an opportunity to dilate on the advantages of virtue over vice.
The king in the meanwhile was pursuing the uneven tenor of his wayward course and although his duties kept him oftentimes among his stolid and industrious subjects, he seldom missed the opportunity to secretly visit the gay French capital on the sly. A free spender, he was ever welcome in the monde galant and the female members of the leading theaters vied with each other to secure his royal favor. Soon he showed marked interest in an American woman named Eliza Musard, the wife of an orchestra leader whose concerts in the Champs Elysees daily brought to her what is fittingly called the tout Paris. Suddenly the concerts ceased and the leader was seen driving around alone in swell equipages. No secret remains a secret long when the curiosity of Paris is aroused and presently it began to be bruited about that Musard’s wife had found a rich admirer—no less a personage, in fact, than his majesty the king of the Netherlands. The Musards after that led a truly regal existence. One new turnout followed another and handsome stables were constructed beside their newly acquired mansion on the Avenue d’Jena. They also acquired the chateau of Viltequier on the banks of the Seine, and in visiting it used a luxurious railway carriage which had formerly belonged to the Duc du Morny. Then when the dethroned Duke of Tuscany put up his villa on Lake Como for sale, the couple bought it and installed themselves there for the summer months, entertaining in the style worthy of a princely household.
The meetings between the king and Mrs. Musard took place at first in Paris, but he soon arranged to have her conducted to his home. A charming little hunting box, near the chateau “In den Bosch,” situated in the heart of the handsome forest adjoining The Hague, was selected for her and when within a mile of the capitol Mme. Musard was picked up by a mail coach and taken thither. All her visits to the hunting box were arranged in secret manner, so were her departures, on which occasions she was pretty sure to take with her a souvenir in the form of a satchel full of trinkets. These little Dutch trips were occasionally relieved by a journey to Switzerland or the north of Italy and were naturally carried out in the strictest incognito. This lasted for several years and curiously enough ended in the king’s being told that he was not wanted any further, Mme. Musard having finally saved up enough to be able to dispense with him altogether. Her dream was to retire with her husband, to whom she was still attached , and live happily and tranquilly to the end of her days. Fate willed otherwise and before attaining the age of 50 Mme. Musard died, blind and insane in a public lunatic asylum.
Emilia Ambre, whose artistic successes on the lyric stage in this country as well as abroad must still be fresh in the memory of many of us, was another of the king’s favorites. It is true that she held the sway for a short time only. The Dutch, who saw more of her than of Mme. Musard, dubbed her “the king’s tulip.” An exceedingly vain woman, she managed to secure from his majesty the title of the Countess D’Amboise, with a coat of arms thrown in, to which she added the motto, “Fiat voluntas mea.” Her arrogance became so unbearable that the king decided to rid himself of her and as she would not leave the kingdom voluntarily, he caused her to be escorted to the frontier by a couple of police agents. A short while after she returned to The Hague and attempted to approach the royal presence, but being recognized on the “Plein” by the afternoon promenaders, was mercilessly mobbed and constrained to leave once more the scene of her former conquests. About five years ago Mme. Ambre published a novel entitled “ Une Diva,” in which, under a thin disguise, she disclosed some of the details of her relationship with the king of Holland.
Upon his marriage with Princess Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont, which event occurred about two years after the death of his wife, the king appeared to have turned over a new leaf. The union was even a comparatively happy one and has been blessed with a daughter, who will succeed to the throne of Holland after her father’s death. Her accession will sever the political bonds that unite the kingdom of the Netherlands with the grand duchy of Luxembourg for in the latter country the Salic law prevails.
King William’s death will not merely be an extinction of the last of those merry monarchs who during the past two generations have supplied food for gossip to the Paris green rooms and saloons. This event will have its pathetic side, for it is not the old man after all the last male descendant of that strong and historic house of Orange, to whose energy and loyalty Holland owes all the greatness of her past and her present prosperity? It is this thought that has palliated every bad action the king has ever been guilty of. It is the thought that will spread a gloom over the entire land when his spark has fled. V.G. Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 30 November 1890: p. 12
Queen Wilhelmina’s mother was married at twenty to a brutal, selfish old widower, King William III of the Netherlands. People said that later, when she went every day to pray over his coffin, she did so to convince herself that he was really dead. Yet—so history repeats itself—Queen Emma married off Wilhelmina in her teens to a cold young man of indifferent reputation. Evening Star [Washington, DC] 31 December 1916: p. 26
That young man was Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who told the Queen several days after their marriage that he had married her only to get his debts paid and that he did not love her.