Netherlands stamps Michel number 2 (issued in 1852) and no. 5 (issued in 1864), depicting
William III, king of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
William was born in Brussels in 1817 as son of William II of the Netherlands and Queen Anna, sister of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. In his early years, he served in the military. He married Sophie, daughter of King William I of Württemberg, in 1839.
He tried to relinquish his right to the throne to his younger brother. His mother convinced him to cancel this action. One year later (in 1849) William became king upon the death of his father. In the first two decades of his reign he dismissed several cabinets. He tried to sell the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1867. The attempt nearly caused a war between Prussia and France, and helped make Luxembourg a fully independent country.
William was always popular with the ordinary people, presenting himself as a cordial man. In 1877 Sophie died and in 1879 William decided to marry Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, a small German principality. In 1880 Wilhelmina was born. She became heiress in 1884 after the death of the last remaining son from William's first marriage.
William became seriously ill in 1887. He died in 1890, leaving his young daughter as Queen. Because the Luxembourg crown could only be worn by males at the time, it went to Adolf.