Claus von Amsberg

Infobox Dutch Royalty|prince|consort
name =Claus von Amsberg
full name = Claus Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd
title = Prince consort of the Netherlands

caption = Queen Beatrix with her husband, the late Claus von Amsberg. The background show several family members, amongst whom The Queen's mother Juliana.
reign = 1980–2002
spouse = Beatrix
issue = Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
Prince Friso
Prince Constantijn
royal house = House of Orange-Nassau
father = Count Claus Felix von Amsberg
mother = Baroness Julie von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen
date of birth = birth date|1926|9|6|mf=y
place of birth = Hitzacker, Germany
date of death = Death date and age| 2002|10|6|1926|9|6
place of death = Amsterdam, Netherlands|

Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Jonkheer of Amsberg (September 6 1926October 6 2002) was a German-born aristocrat who became the husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Upon his marriage he became HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands.


He was born at the family estate Haus Dötzingen near Hitzacker, Germany as Klaus-Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg. His parents were Klaus Felix von Amsberg and Gösta Julie Adelheid Marion Marie Baroness von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen. His father operated a large farm in Tanganyika from 1928 until World War II. Claus and his six sisters grew up at their grandparents' manor in Lower Saxony. Claus also attended a boarding school in Tanzania from 1936 to 1938. He was also a member of Nazi youth organisations such as Deutsches Jungvolk and the Hitler Youth (the latter being mandatory for all fit members of his generation) [] . From 1938 until 1942, he attended the Baltenschule Misdroy.

In 1944, he was conscripted to the German Wehrmacht. He became a member of the German 90th Panzergrenadier Division in Italy in March 1945, but was taken as a prisoner of war by the U.S. at Merano before taking part in any fighting. After his repatriation, he finished school in Lüneburg and studied law in Hamburg. He joined the German diplomatic corps and worked in Santo Domingo and Côte d'Ivoire. In the 1960s he was transferred to Bonn.

Claus and Beatrix met at the wedding-eve party of Princess Tatjana of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse in the summer of 1964. Sections of the Dutch population were unhappy that Beatrix' fiancé was a German, only twenty years after the end of the war and there were protests during the wedding celebrations, notably by the anarchist-artist group Provo. The two married on on March 10 1966.

Over time, Claus became accepted by the public, even so much that in the last part of his life he was generally considered the most popular member of the royal familyFact|date=February 2007. Reasons for this change in Dutch opinion were his strong motivation to contribute to public causes, especially third world development (on which he was considered an expert), his sincere modesty, his candidness (within, but sometimes on the edge of, royal protocol), and his approachability to all layers of society.

The public also sympathized with Claus for his efforts to give meaning to his life beyond the restrictions that Dutch law imposed on the royal family's freedom of speech and action (lest they get involved in political controversy). Many also believed that these restrictions were at least partly the cause of his severe depression), which lasted many years. As a result, restrictions were loosened; Claus was even appointed as senior staff member at the Department of Developing Aid, albeit in an advisory role.

A fine example of his mildly rebellious attitude toward protocol was the "Declaration of the Tie". In 1998, after presenting the annual Prince Claus Awards to three African fashion designers, Claus told "workers of all nations to unite and cast away the new shackles they have voluntarily cast upon themselves", meaning the necktie, that "snake around my neck", and encouraged the audience to "venture into open-collar paradise". Then Claus removed his tie and threw it to the ground.



Claus suffered various health problems during his life, such as depression, cancer and Parkinson's disease. He died on October 6 2002 after a long illness, aged 76.

His embalmed body was placed in the royal family's tomb in Delft on October 15. It was the first full state funeral since Wilhelmina's in 1962.

External links

* [ In pictures: Prince Claus remembered]
* [ Video: Condolences pour in, 7 October 2002]
* [ Dutch Royal Family website: Biography]

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