Dutch King wants crown princess to travel, find herself before taking the throne

King Willem-Alexander, 2017
King Willem-Alexander, 2017. (Photo: RVD / Frank van Beek)

It took King Willem-Alexander some time during his teenage and student years to accept that he will someday take the thrown. His time traveling and meeting interesting people really helped with that, he said in an interview with Wilfried de Jong on Wednesday night, the night before his 50th birthday. He wants the same for crown princess Amalia before she takes over from him, the Volkskrant reports.

"I hadn't yet accepted, internalized that I would take over fom my mother. I wanted to get to know myself better. You must first get to know yourself through and through. That's what I am constantly emphasizing with Amalia", the Dutch King said. "I keep saying: know your own limits. Go everywhere. Make mistakes, as far as possible out of the eyes of the public. I did that, a lot. Festivals, parties everything and more (...) find your boundaries. It is a good thing to do, without doing it in the public domain."

Willem-Alexander had a relatively carefree youth with lots of freedom. Part of that came from the fact that his security guards did not report back to his parents. He and Queen Maxima have the same arrangement with their daughters' guards. "It's about the safety of my children, not about us knowing what they're doing or whether things are good or bad. Otherwise you can never develop yourself. If they want to share things about Amalia, I would rather not know."

The visibly emotional King also spoke about the death of his younger brother, Prince Friso, in 2013. He died a year and half after being caught in an avalanche while skiing. "You only realize what you're losing when you don't have each other anymore. He lived in London, with Mabel and the children, but was a good advisor in the background. Sometimes crude, but always completely honest. Once you don't have that anymore, your really miss it", the King said. "You also see what happens to a mother losing a child, losing part of herself. It's not natural."

Going through that grief helped him to empathize with everyone who lost someone in the MH17 disaster the next year. "You obviously understand. You can't separate it. Your world collapses They also went through that." he said. "I ignored my own emotions at that moment. It was not about me. But it does help that they say: you know what you are talking about."