Stadtholder Willem V

1748-1806 1751-1795

Willem was just three years old when his father Willem IV died. His mother Anne governed as regent on his behalf. But Anne died when Willem was nine, so his grandmother Maria Louise became regent, followed later by his older sister Carolina. As stadtholder, Willem faced great discontent in the country. A growing group of people – the Patriots – felt that the stadtholder had too much power, made poor decisions and was too cautious. The patriots rebelled in 1787. The King of Prussia, the brother of his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia, sent troops to defend Willem V and keep him in power.

In 1795 the Netherlands was invaded by French troops supported by the Dutch patriots, who no longer supported the stadtholder’s regime. Willem V and his family fled to England, and later went to live in Germany, where Willem died a few years later. It was not until 1958 that his coffin was returned to the Netherlands to be placed in the royal crypt.