Royal Records

This week we celebrate two happy moments for the royal family. On 31 January the birthday of Princess Beatrix. In addition, on 2 February the 20th wedding anniversary of King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima. Records for both events are not public yet. As a result, we cannot have a look at these birth or marriage records. However, other royal records are public and online. Just like every other civil record we can access those. Let me give you two examples.

Death of King William II (1849)

The first record is the death record of King William II. He died in Tilburg on 17 March 1849.[1] The death record from two days says [handwritten parts are italicized]:
“The year one thousand eight hundred forty-nine, on the nineteenth of the month March appeared before us alderman officer of the Civil Registry of the city of Tilburg, Jean Philippe Baron de Girard de Miellet van Coehoorn, lieutenant-colonel of the artillery, old fifty-three years, adjutant of the deceased and Louis Matis, first valet old fifty-three years, acquaintance of the deceased, both residing in ‘s-Gravenhage, and staying in Tilburg who told us, that on Saturday the seventeenth of the month March eighteen hundred forty nine, at two hours in the morning passed away His Majesty Willem Frederik George Lodewijk, King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Grand-duke of Luxemburg, old fifty-six years, born in ‘s-Gravenhage province of Zuid-Holland, residing in ‘s-Gravenhage, son of His Majesty Willem Frederik, Count of Nassau, and of Her Majesty Frederika Louisa Wilhelmina, Princess of Prussia, both dead, being the deceased husband of Her Majesty Anna Paulowna, Grand-Duchess of Russia, residing in ‘s-Gravenhage, and have, after the record was read to the parties, it signed with us.
Even though a few preprinted words have been crossed out, a standard record was used for the death of King Willem II.

Additional documents

I have to be honest. What is different, is that there are two extra hand-written records in the register. Both from 2 April 1849 and are by the hand of Arnoldus van der Voort. He was the alderman who acted as officer of the Civil Registry. In the first record he described how he visited the king’s house in Tilburg and inspected the corpse. He used the following words for it:
“[I] found the body of said His Majesty the King […] lying in a oak long-shaped tanned coffin or cover, which has the length of one ell and ninety-five inches,[2] a width at the top of fifty, in the middle of sixty and at the end of forty inches, with a flat lid which has a small twenty-two by thirty inches window at the top, while the coffin has a height of thirty inches.”
The second handwritten piece is the permission to transport the king’s corpse from Tilburg to Delft to bury it there. Upon arrival the mayor of Delft has to inspect the corpse.

Birth of Queen Juliana (1909)

Another example of a royal record is the birth of Queen Juliana in 1909. The text of her birth record is so long that the civil registrar needed the whole page – and thus three preprinted birth records – to write down all details.
The father, prince Hendrik, and two men presented the newborn to the officer of the Civil Registry of The Hague (‘s-Gravenhage) on 1 May 1909. Said two witnesses were Antonius Petrus Laurentius Nelissen, Minister of the Interior, and Reneke de Marees van Swinderen, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The father said that the child: “was born in the royal palace at Noordeinde no. 68 in this city on Friday the thirtieth April of the year nineteen hundred and nine in the morning at six hours and fifty minutes”. In addition, he said that “[the] child, named Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Duchess of Mecklenburg, is a daughter of him Hendrik Wladimir Albrecht Ernst, Prince of the Netherlands, Duke of Mecklenburg, […] and of his royal spouse Her Majesty Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Duchess of Mecklenburg, etc. etc. etc., both residing in ‘s-Gravenhage.”[3]
The birth record is not substantially different from that of any other child, except that the many names and titles required more space.
Contrary to what we saw with the previous record, this one does not show any additional documents.

Baptism in The Hague

A while ago I accidentally came across the baptism of Queen Juliana, when I was researching the baptismal records of the Willemskerk in The Hague for a client. Where the birth record looks rather dull – like all comparable records – this baptismal registration is very graceful and colorful. It says the minister baptized:
“on 5 June 1909 in the afternoon at 1 1/2 hour Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, born in this place on 30 April 1909, daughter of His Royal Highness Hendrik Wladimir Albrecht Ernst, Prince of the Netherlans, Duke of Mecklenburg etc. And of his royal spouse Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Duchess of Mecklenburg, etc. etc. etc.”
According to a note in the margin, J.H. Gerretsen, minister of Dutch Reformed Church, performed the baptism in the presence of the elders B.L. Hagedoorn and H. de Mol van Otterloo.[4]

Final words

When going through Dutch civil records one can easily find the birth, marriage or death records of members of the royal family. Like any other civil record, these records are also public. There are the normal restrictions for privacy reasons. In other words, 100 years for birth records, 75 years for marriage records and 50 years for death records.

In conclusion: the royal records are basically the same as any other civil record. However, in most cases they will be longer and they sometimes contain additional information.


[1] Civil Registry (Tilburg, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands), death records 1849, no. 63, Willem Frederik George Lodewijk, King of the Netherlands (19 March 1849); Tilburg Regional Archives, record group 16, item 363, folio 17; digital image, Regionaal Archief Tilburg ( : accessed 29 January 2022).
[2] In 1849 the old measures ell and inch were synonyms for the current measures meter and centimeter. Thus, the coffin was about 1.95 meters (approximately 6’5″) long and 50-60-40 centimeters (approximately 19.5″-23.5″-15.75″) wide and 30 centimeters (approximately 11.75″) high.
[3] Civil Registry (‘s-Gravenhage, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands), birth records 1909, no. 2382, Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange-Nassau (1 May 1909); The Hague City Archives, record group 0335-01, item 496; digital image, Haags Gemeentearchief ( : accessed 29 January 2022).
[4] Dutch Reformed Church (‘s-Gravenhage), baptisms 1857-1903 and 1909, Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange-Nassay (5 June 1909); The Hague City Archives, record group 0203-01, item 214, no page number.