'The reigning characteristics of Dutch character’. A princess from Wurtemberg becoming a Dutch queen (1818-1877)

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


In 2007 princess Máxima of the Netherlands, born in Argentina, stated that she had not found a particular Dutch identity since she had arrived in the Netherlands. In the nineteenth century a princess, not from the southern hemisphere but from southern Germany, would argue differently. In 1839 princess Sophie of Wurtemberg (1818-1877) was married to the Dutch hereditary prince William of Orange (1817-1890), the later king William III of the Netherlands. ‘Finally, I arrived in Holland. It was one of the most excruciating moments of my existence.’ This is how Sophie later in life recalled her arrival in her ‘new fatherland’. She had to leave behind her family and her life in the royal palace in Stuttgart. How was the attitude of this princess from a Southern German state towards a Northern European country as the Netherlands? Her autobiography and her private letters, which she wrote in great numbers, have primarily been read as reports of her failed marriage with William III and its repercussions on Dutch politics. But these egodocuments also contain her opinions on the Dutch national character, including outspoken views on ‘one of the reigning characteristics of Dutch character’ which, according to Sophie, was the low esteem of a women’s understanding. In my paper, I will discuss her views on Dutch culture and the Netherlands and argue that her initial negative views on the Dutch national character gradually developed towards a more positive identification with her ‘new fatherland’.
Event titleUsages du Nord dans la communication politique / Using the North in political communication
Event typeConference
LocationStrassbourg, FranceShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational