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Item: BSL - 1812 William of Orange


King Willem II of the Netherlands - HRH William, Prince of Orange
British General & Wellington's Aide de Camp in the Peninsular Campaign
1792 -1849

H.M. Willem II, By the Grace of God King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Lauenburg, Prince of Orange, Prince of Nassau-Dietz, GCB, GCH, made Field Marshall of Great Britain on July 28, 1845





February 19th 1812
Freneda was Wellington's Headquarters at this time

Royal Red Seal of the
House of Orange

Your very Faithful
and Affectionate
William of Orange

"2N4" Postage Rate
2 Shilling/4 Pence

Coat of Arms of
House of Orange

Blue Lisbon Cancel
April 6 1812

Historical Note

King Willem II of the Netherlands

Willem II (William Frederick George Louis) (December 6, 1792 – March 17, 1849) was King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg from October 7, 1840 until his death on March 17, 1849. Note that Willem is the Dutch form of William, who actually used the English form, William, of his name within the family and among friends.

He was born in The Hague, the son of King William I of the Netherlands and Queen Wilhelmina, princess of Prussia. His maternal grandparents were Frederick William II of Prussia and his second wife Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt. When William was three he and his family fled to England after allied British-Hanoverian mercenaries left the Republic and entering French troops joined the anti-orangist Patriots. William spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court. There he followed a military education and served in the Prussian army. Afterwards he studied at the University of Oxford. It  was to his friends at Oxford that this letter was written. He entered the British Army, and in 1811, as aide-de-camp to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, took part in several campaigns of the Peninsular War, where he was mentioned in dispatches and noted approvingly by Wellington. He returned to the Netherlands in 1813 when his father became sovereign prince following the defeat and retreat of Napoleon from the Low Countries following the battle of Leipzig. In 1815 William became crown prince and he took service in the army when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba. He fought as commander of combined Dutch and Belgian forces at the Battle of Quatre Bras (June 16) and the Battle of Waterloo (June 18), where he was wounded. He was considered a hero although his military inexperience was the cause of several critical errors.

In 1816 William became briefly engaged with Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, only daughter of George IV of the United Kingdom and Caroline of Brunswick. The marriage was arranged by George but Charlotte did not want to marry William so the engagement was broken. On February 21, 1816, William married Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, sister to Czar Alexander I of Russia, who arranged the marriage to seal the good relations between Imperial Russia and the Netherlands. On February 17, 1817 his eldest son Willem Alexander was born (the future King Willem III) in Brussels, where he lived. He enjoyed considerable popularity in Belgium, as well as in the Netherlands for his affability and moderation, and in 1830, on the outbreak of the Belgian revolution, he did his utmost in Brussels as a peace broker, to bring about a settlement based on administrative autonomy for the southern provinces, under the House of Orange-Nassau. His father afterwards rejected the terms of accommodation that he had proposed. Relations with his father remained tense. In April 1831 he was leader of the ten day campaign in Belgium which was driven back to the North by French intervention. European intervention established Leopold of Saxe-Gotha on the new throne of Belgium. Peace was finally established between Belgium and the Netherlands in 1839.

King of the Netherlands

On October 7, 1840, on his father's abdication, Willem acceded the throne as Willem II. Like his father he was conservative and less likely to initiate changes. He intervened less in policies than his father did. There was increased agitation for broad constitutional reform and a wider electoral franchise. And though he was personally conservative and no democrat, he acted with sense and moderation. The Revolutions of 1848 broke out all over Europe. In Paris the Bourbon-Orléans monarchy fell. William became afraid of revolution in Amsterdam. One morning he woke up and said: "I changed from conservative to liberal in one night". He gave orders to Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to create a new constitution which included that the Eerste Kamer (Senate) would be chosen indirectly by the Provincial States and that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) would be chosen directly. Electoral system changed into census suffrage in electoral districts (in 1917 census suffrage was replaced by common suffrage for all adults, and districts were replaced by party lists of different political parties), whereby royal power decreased sharply. The constitution is still in effect today. He swore in the first parliamentary cabinet a few months before his sudden death in Tilburg, North Brabant (1849).

2 page Document – Signed: William of Orange and Dated: February 19th 1812
Text as Follows:

Freneda - February 19th 1812

My Dear John Bull,

Receive my best thanks for your letters dated 3rd October and 18th Dec’br and excuse my not having answered you sooner which I really think a great shame; since you must have thought that the news of your brilliant success, which by no means astonished me having always expected it, had been indifferent to me, whilst however this intelligence has I can assure you very much rejoiced me as well as your other friends in this part of the world. --- We have likewise not been idle the last month as you will have seen by the papers having taken Rodrigo by storm after a siege of 11 days, the Spanish government has in consequence created Lord Wellington, Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, what a barbarous title! His new Grace is in uncommon good health and spirits. We expect a great deal more to do in the course of the next two months which I hope will be very successful but I fear very bloody, the field of battle will most likely be more towards the South, I long to be again in authority although, I have been lately very gay having partaken of balls and masquerades at C. Rodrigo and given a ball at Gallegos the Spanish Ladies although not so nice as the English, do very well whilst campaigning. Tomorrow we have here fox hunting and a ball in the evening at General Stewart’s, and the next day I am engaged to General Spry’s at Rodrigo where I am to have an other ball and a boar hunt, but I hardly think I shall go to the latter since we Head Quarter’s people ought not to mingle too much with those of the Divisions but make ourselves scarce. The Baron and Johnson beg to be remembered. Believe me to remain

Your very faithful and affectionate
William of Orange

Pray remember me to the Doctor and Mrs. Howley and all my other Oxford Friends and acquaintances. How do the concerts go on and who are the bells in the room, I hope Lady Caroline Berty is recover’d from the accident she met with. Excuse the hurry in which this is written but on an English post day there is always so much to do here that one almost loses one’s recollection.

NB: William was an Anglophile and thus wrote his own name in the English form: William -  His name in Dutch form: Willem
Dr. William Howley, DD,(1766 - 1848) was the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford 1809-1813, Canon of Christ Church; afterwards Bishop of London, Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. William Howley, once a rector of Bradford Peverell, rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury (1828-48), and it was he who crowned Queen Victoria.


From left to right: Willem III (1817–1890), Alexander (1818–1848), Willem II (1792–1849)
Anna Pavlovna (1795–1865), Sophie (1824–1897) and Hendrik (1820–1879).

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End of Item: BSL - 1812 William of Orange

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