William V, the Last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic.

On 9 April 1806 William V, Prince of Nassau-Orange, died while visiting the Brunswick palace of his daughter Frederika Luise Wilhelmina and son-in-law, Karl Georg August, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.


He had lived in exile at Kew in Great Britain from 1795 until his death, welcomed there after the Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam drove him out of Netherlands. He was offered sanctuary in London because he was a descendant of royalty and because he was married to Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, who was a cousin of King George III. He repaid King George by writing the Kew Letters, in which he instructed:

the governors of the Dutch colonies, instructing them to hand over their colonies to the British “for safe-keeping.” Though only a number complied this contributed to their confusion and demoralisation. Almost all Dutch colonies were in the course of time occupied by the British, who in the end returned most, but not all (South Africa and Ceylon), first at the Treaty of Amiens and later with the Convention of London 1814.

He nevertheless made himself very unpopular in England by his venal behavior and for sponging off the taxpayers in spite of his own ostentatious wealth, leading to some skewering in the popular press.

Dutch-Cupid-Gillray William V

In 1813, William’s son returned to the Netherlands and became the first Dutch monarch from the House of Orange, King William I. The following year the new king’s son, the future William II of the Netherlands, was engaged briefly to George III’s granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales.

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