Photo Credit – “Prince Claus of the Netherlands 1986″ by Croes, Rob C. / Anefo –  Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989, Nummer toegang 2.24.01.06 Bestanddeelnummer 253-8984. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands_1986.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands_1986.jpg
Prince Claus of the Netherlands, was the husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
. Klaus-Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg was born on 6 September 6, 1926 at Haus Dötzingen, his family’s estate near Hitzacker, Germany. He was the only son of the seven children of Klaus von Amsberg
, a member of the German Niederer Adel (lower nobility), and Baroness Gösta von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
Claus had six sisters:
- Sigrid von Amsberg (born 1925), married in 1952 to Bernd Jencquel, had issue
- Rixa von Amsberg (born 1927 – 2010), married to Peter Ahrend
- Margit von Amsberg (born 1930 – 1988), married in 1964 to Ernst Grubitz, had issue
- Barbara von Amsberg (born 1930), married in 1963 to Günther Haarhaus, had issue
- Theda von Amsberg (born 1939), married in 1966 to Baron Karl von Friesen, had issue
- Christina von Amsberg (born 1945), married in 1961 to Baron Hans Hubertus von der Recke, had issue
In 1928, the family moved to the former German colony of Tanganyika (later Tanzania), where his father was manager of a coffee and sisal plantation. In 1933, Claus and his sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother in Lower Saxony, Germany. He attended the attended the Friderico-Francisceum-Gymnasium in Bad Doberan, Germany from 1933 to 1936 and a German boarding school in Lushoto, Tanganyika from 1936 to 1938.
In 1938, Claus and his mother moved back to Germany and he attended Balt Schule, a boarding school in Misdroy, Pomerania, Germany (now in Poland). Claus then moved back with his maternal grandmother in 1943 and again attended the Friderico-Francisceum-Gymnasium. He joined the German Youth and later, the Hitler Youth. Membership in both organizations was compulsory for eligible boys.
Claus was drafted into the German Wehrmacht in 1944. He trained with an armored division from August 1944 – March 1945. Claus then became a soldier in the German 90th Panzergrenadier Division in Italy in March 1945, but taken as a prisoner of war by the American forces at Merano, Italy before taking part in any fighting. Claus was sent to a prisoner of war camp at Ghedi, Italy where he worked as an interpreter and a driver. In September of 1945, he was sent to Camp Latimer, an American internment camp in England and again served as an interpreter. In December of 1945, Claus was released and returned to his birthplace Hitzacker, Germany.
Claus was able to finish his secondary education in Lüneburg, Germany and studied law at the University of Hamburg, graduating in 1952. After an internship in the United States and for a short period at a law firm, where he was worked with the restitution of Jewish Germans in West Germany, he chose a new direction, diplomacy. He passed the necessary exams, and worked in the West German embassies in the Dominican Republic and the Ivory Coast. In 1963, Claus went to work in the West German capital of Bonn at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Section for Economic Relations with Africa south of the Sahara.
On New Year’s Eve in 1962, Claus met Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the heir to the Dutch throne, at a party with friends in Bad Driburg, Germany. The couple met again at the wedding eve party of Princess Tatjana of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse, in June of 1964. Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg acted as a go-between for the couple and did much to strengthen their relationship.
On May 1, 1965, a photographer took a photo of the couple in the gardens at in the garden of Drakensteyn Castle and their relationship became public. The fact that he was a German national, had been a member of the Hitler Youth, and had served in the Wehrmacht, caused great controversy among the Dutch people. Among other protests, orange swastikas were painted on walls around Amsterdam as an ugly association between the House of Orange and Germany’s Nazi past. Queen Juliana gave her permission to the marriage although she had given serious thoughts to not allowing it. The Dutch parliament debated long and vehemently about the proposed marriage. Only after the historian Loe de Jong had established that Claus was not to blame for any war crimes, was the marriage approved. On December 10, 1965, Claus received a Dutch passport and on February 16, 1966, his name was officially changed to Claus George Willem Otto Frederik Geert van Amsberg.
Claus and Beatrix were married on March 10, 1966, at the Westerkerk, a large church just down the street from the building where Dutch Jewish teenager Anne Frank hid during World War II. The ride to and from the church was disrupted by riots with smoke bombs and firecrackers. According to some newspapers, there were about a thousand rioters chanting “revolution” and “Claus get out”. Claus was granted the style and titles His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Jonkheer van Amsberg.
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg
After their marriage, Claus and Beatrix lived at Drakensteyn Castle and Claus began to learn Dutch. In the first year of his marriage, Claus kept in the background. The first time he was the center of attention was when he came to register the birth and name of his eldest son at the Utrecht city hall and then gave a short televised speech to the Dutch people.
Claus and Beatrix had three sons:
- King Willem-Alexander (born April 27, 1967) married 2002 Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, had three daughters
- Prince Friso (September 25, 1968 – August 12, 2013) married 2004 Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004, had two daughters
- Prince Constantijn (born October 11, 1969) married 2001 Laurentien Brinkhorst, has two daughters and a son
Over the years, Claus became accepted by the Dutch public and during the last part of his life he was considered the most popular member of the Dutch Royal Family. Claus remained fascinated by Africa, and was appointed Chairman of the National Commission for Development Strategy, a publicity organization for the development African policy of the government. On April 30, 1980, Queen Juliana abdicated and Beatrix became Queen. The family moved to Huis ten Bosch, a royal palace in The Hague. On June 10, 1981, Claus was appointed regent in case Queen Beatrix died before their eldest son reached his 18th birthday.
Claus suffered from various health issues. In 1982, Claus was diagnosed with depression and spent some time in the hospital. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. Claus underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer in 1998, but the radiation for the cancer caused urinary tract problems. In 2001, a kidney was removed and he had problems with the other kidney. Respiratory infections kept him in the hospital during the spring of 2002, shortly after the wedding of his eldest son Willem-Alexander. On August 9, 2002 he had a coronary angioplasty. Prince Claus, aged 76, died on October 6, 2002 at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands from Parkinson’s disease and pneumonia. He was buried in the crypt of the royal family in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft.
Photo Credit – “Funeral of Prince Claus of the Netherlands” by Looi from nl. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Funeral_of_Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Funeral_of_Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands.jpg
Wikipedia: Prince Claus of the Netherlands
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