William Henry III, (Willem Hendrik in Dutch) Prince of Orange was born on 4th November 1650.
A Dutchman by birth, part of the House of Orange, he would later reign as King of England, Scotland and Ireland until his death in 1702.
William’s reign came at a precarious time in Europe when religious divide dominated international relations.
William would emerge as an important Protestant figurehead; the Orange Order in Northern Ireland is named after him.
His victory at the Battle of Boyne on 12th July is still celebrated by many in Northern Ireland, England, Canada and parts of Scotland.
Birth of William
William’s story begins in the Dutch Republic which was made up of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel.
Born in The Hague on 4th November 1650, he was the only child of William II, Prince of Orange and his wife Mary, the eldest daughter of the executed Charles I.
Unfortunately, William’s father, the Prince, died two weeks before he was born, resulting in him assuming the title of Prince of Orange from birth.
When William was 10 years old, his mother Mary died of smallpox during a trip to visit her newly reinstated brother Charles II in England.
At such a young age, William had already lost both his parents.
In her will, Mary expressed her wishes that her brother King Charles II took care of William’s interests.
This proved to be a contentious issue in the Netherlands and in the years that followed, the English and Dutch would continue to jostle for influence over the young royal.
But the young William back in the Netherlands was learning to be an astute autocrat, entitled to rule.
His roles were two-fold; leader of the House of Orange and stadtholder, a Dutch word referring to the head of state of the Dutch Republic.
Meanwhile back in England, the situation was developing in a way that was to affect not only Williams political but also his personal life…………………………………