By James, Michael Igiri
The king of the Netherlands has revealed he has been living a secret double life as a co-pilot for a commercial airline.
For 21 years, King Willem-Alexander has taken to the skies twice a month to ferry passengers around on short-haul services for the Dutch airline KLM.
Sky news reports that although travellers may have recognised the monarch’s voice as he updated them on weather conditions and their time of arrival, the royal’s presence was never revealed.
The fleet of smaller Fokker 70 planes flown by the king are now being phased out by KLM, meaning he needs to take time out to retrain and learn to fly Boeing 737s.
The 50-year- old royal described his casual flights as a "hobby" – and said occasionally being able to
leave his royal duties behind to concentrate on flying was "relaxing".
The father-of- three says he has no plans to learn how to fly a bigger aircraft, as flights which involve
an overnight stop mean he "cannot get back in time to the Netherlands in case of an emergency".
On staying incognito, he told De Telegraaf newspaper: "The advantage is that I can always say I am
speaking on behalf of the captain and crew to welcome them on board, so I don't have to say my
"But then, most people don't listen anyway."
Willem-Alexander was born in Utrecht and is the oldest child of Beatrix of the Netherlands and
German diplomat Claus van Amsberg.
He became Prince of Orange as heir apparent upon his mother's accession on 30 April 1980, and
succeeded her following her abdication on 30 April 2013.
He went to public primary and secondary schools, served in the Royal Netherlands Navy, and studied
history at Leiden University.
He married Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti in 2002 and they have three daughters: Catharina-Amalia,
Princess of Orange (born 2003), Princess Alexia (born 2005), and Princess Ariane (born 2007).
Willem-Alexander is interested in sports and international water management issues. Until his
accession to the throne, he was a member of the International Olympic Committee (1998–2013).
At the age of 50, he is currently the second youngest monarch in Europe after Felipe VI of Spain.