King Willem Alexander’s secret flying career

You probably knew that some Dutchies like to get high every now and then — but the fact that our King Willem Alexander secretly gets high two times per month came as a surprise to many back in 2017!

All joking aside, we already knew that the King was a fan of aviation and piloting. But that the King secretly co-piloted a KLM Cityhopper to cities in the UK, Germany and Norway caused a huge shock when it was revealed. You would think that a king would hardly need a part-time job, and you’d be right: King Willem Alexander says he does it purely for the love of flying.

When the King takes to the skies

The Dutch king accompanies a KLM captain up to two times per month. He is usually known as ‘Meneer van Buren’ to the passengers and just simply ‘Alex’ for the crew. He was recognized at times by the passengers because of his voice, even though he tried hiding his persona. He says it has been a lot more difficult to recognise him post 9-11, as passengers can no longer come into the cockpit.

And no worries people, the good royal man is fully licensed to do all this. No mentioning of him getting paid for it though. Since the first reveal was made three years ago, the King has also learned how to fly Boeing 737s as well as his original Cityhopper flights with KLM.

In an interview with De Telegraaf, the King revealed that part of what he loves about flying is the fact that it demands all of his concentration. “You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them. You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.”

How does the king sound in the cockpit?

If you’ve ever wondered how the king sounds when he’s piloting, there’s this very cool recording available where you can here him sorting out the plane’s departure with the control tower (it’s partly in English as well, so no worries about not understanding the words of our esteemed monarch).

The King’s secret life

The King has done many interesting things during his life — as one would kind of expect from a king, to be fair. We’ve also got seven things you didn’t know about King Willem Alexander, including his participation in the elfstedentocht and his university nickname Prince Pilsner.

Prince Bernhard the pilot. Image: Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

He also doesn’t get his love for flying it from a stranger, his grandfather — the late Prince Bernhard — had quite a reputation as a swashbuckler and also flew bombing missions against Nazi-Germany in WW2.

Anything we missed about the King’s flight career? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: GlynLowe/Wikimedia Commons and WZ-digital-photography/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2017 but was updated for your reading pleasure in April 2021.

Abuzer Van Leeuwen
Abuzer Van Leeuwen
Founded DutchReview. Rotterdammer living in Leiden. Politics, innovation and epic food-reviews are his thing. Interested in doing anything with DutchReview? Contact him at abuzer[at]


  1. My nephew Rich Groot is a Captain for DELTA airlines and I suggested to him last year when passengers board the plane he should say,WELCOME TO FLIGHT #2280 TO ATLANTA.I AM YOUR CAPTAIN ON THIS FLIGHT AND “I AM GROOT” ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT.


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