Wilhelmina of Prussia, Princess of Orange

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Princess Wilhelmina
Johann Georg Ziesenis - Portret van Frederika Sophia Wilhelmina (1751-1820), prinses van Pruisen, echtgenote van Willem V, prins van Oranje-Nassau.jpg
Painting by Johann Georg Ziesenis (1768-69)
Princess consort of Orange
Tenure4 October 1767 – 9 April 1806
Born(1751-08-07)7 August 1751
Died9 June 1820(1820-06-09) (aged 68)
SpouseWilliam V, Prince of Orange
IssuePrincess Louise
William I of the Netherlands
Prince Frederik
Full name
Friederike Sophie Wilhelmine
HouseHohenzollern
FatherPrince Augustus William of Prussia
MotherDuchess Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel

Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia (Frederika Sophia Wilhelmina; 7 August 1751 in Berlin – 9 June 1820 in Het Loo) was the consort of William V of Orange and the de facto leader of the dynastic party and counter-revolution in the Netherlands. She was the daughter of Prince Augustus William of Prussia and Luise of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Wilhelmina was the longest-serving Princess consort of Orange.

Background[edit]

Wilhelmina was brought up by her grandmother. On 4 October 1767 in Berlin, she was married to William V of Orange, the last Dutch Stadtholder. Duke Louis Ernest was instrumental in arranging the marriage of Prince William V with his niece, he immediately observed that the princess craved joint rule, and so was starting to undermine Louis Ernest's dominant position. In long letters she complained about him to her other uncle, King Frederick II of Prussia; as a person, she was proud and politically ambitious; as a princess consort, she dominated her spouse and exerted both overt and covert influence on the politics of state.

The revolution[edit]

Equestrian portrait of Wilhelmina by Tethart Philipp Christian Haag hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

She was deeply involved in the revolutionary political conflict in the Netherlands from 1781 onwards – not only a supporter and partner, but as a main driving power behind the party of her spouse, she disliked her uncle Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Captain-General of the Netherlands. From 1782 she was recognized openly as the true leader of the dynastic Stadtholder party, a role its followers actively encouraged her to take, she was in heavy correspondence with foreign powers and used foreign supporters to influence Dutch internal policy. In 1785, her spouse was forced to leave Den Haag and put under a demand to abdicate. Wilhelmina persuaded William not to give in, and subsequently went to Friesland – officially to visit a jubilee, but in reality she aimed to gain support in the ongoing political conflict. In 1786, the family moved from the capital at the Hague to Nijmegen. After the revolution proper broke out in 1787 and William had moved his court to Guelders, she attempted to return to the Hague; on 28 June 1787, she was stopped at Goejanverwellesluis, waiting for permission to continue to her destination; she was went back to William after two days as permission was denied.

Both Wilhelmina and her brother, King Frederick William II of Prussia perceived the occurrences as an insult. A request to the States to apologize led to two ultimatums, the first on 6 August and the second starting on 10 September. Then Wilhelmina asked her brother for a military intervention. Frederick, despite having been in power for only a year, attacked the Dutch Republic on 13 September 1787. William was restored to power two weeks later and many rebels fled to Pas de Calais (France), and Brussels in early October. At the end of the year, the princess demanded the replacement of a large number of regents.

Exile and later life[edit]

However, the Dutch patriots returned in 1795 with support from the French, and William fled to his ally, his cousin George III of England. During their exile, the couple lived in Kew until 1802, and subsequently went to Germany, where they lived in Nassau and Braunschweig (where William died in 1806). Thereafter, Wilhelmina and her daughter – both having been widowed in 1806 – lived together at various places in the Confederation of the Rhine, Weimar, Oranienburg and Berlin.

William, the son of William V and Wilhelmina, went with them into exile, but returned to the Netherlands in 1813 to become King William I of the Netherlands, the founder of the present Dutch monarchy. Wilhelmina and her daughter returned to the Netherlands in 1814 and settled in Villa Welgelegen, she received Tsar Alexander I of Russia in Haarlem in 1815.

Children[edit]

Wilhelmina and William V of Orange were parents to five children:

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusively of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 17.
Wilhelmina of Prussia, Princess of Orange
Born: 7 August 1751 Died: 9 June 1820
Dutch royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Anne, Princess Royal
Princess consort of Orange
1767–1806
Succeeded by
Wilhelmine of Prussia