The royal who secretly pilots planes

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrive during a state dinner at Government House.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrive during a state dinner at Government House.

It is well known that King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is a fan of planes. He served in the Royal Netherlands navy and air forces and has been a "guest pilot" in the past for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

But it's perhaps less well known the extent of the royal's love of aviation.

Willem-Alexander has revealed that he has been co-piloting commercial flights twice a month for the last 21 years.

King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima married in February 2002 and have three daughters, princesses Catharina-Amalia, ...
MICHAEL DALDER/FAIRFAX

King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima married in February 2002 and have three daughters, princesses Catharina-Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.

The BBC reports that the king has opened up about his experiences of flying Fokker 70 aircraft for both the Dutch government and KLM's Cityhopper service.

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Willem-Alexander told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he hardly ever gets recognised and that he doesn't use his real name when making announcements.

The king admits that one of the reason he flies is to leave any troubles on the ground.

"You have a plane, passengers and crew and you are responsible for them. You can't take your problems with you off the ground. You can completely switch off for a while and focus on something else."

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He is now being retrained to fly the KLM Boeing 737 as the Fokker 70 is being retired.

Willem-Alexander became Europe's youngest king when Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013.

He visited New Zealand last year along with Queen Maxima for a second state visit. They previously visited here as prince and princess on an official tour in November 2006.

 - Stuff

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