*Part of a press trip*
While the Netherlands seems to have forgotten the 250th anniversary of the birth of King William I of the Netherlands, the city of Fulda in Germany has embraced it as an opportunity to showcase its links to the Dutch King. William ruled the Kingdom of the Netherlands between 1815 and his abdication in 1840, but before that, he was Prince of Nassau-Orange-Fulda between 1802 and 1806. This principality was created to compensate his father for the loss of his lands in the Low Countries, and his father accepted the offer in favour of his son.
His reign was to be shortlived, and in October 1806, Fulda was occupied by the French, and William lost the principality. Nevertheless, his short reign in Fulda is seen as training for him and helped him prepare for his future as King of the Netherlands. Fulda is also one of the locations on the Orange Route, which is 2300 kilometres long and takes you to 23 German cities, which all have a connection to the Dutch royal house.
The exhibition Design & Dynasty has taken over the Stadtschloss or City Palace in Fulda for the summer. The palace is also in use as a city hall, although you can also tour the place. The curator is Nicole Uniquole, who has incorporated some modern surprises. The exhibition is spread out over several rooms and floors, and it has a huge number of items from the Royal Collections (Koninklijke Verzamelingen) in the Netherlands. In addition, there’s an audio tour which you can open on your own phone with a QR code.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you are met by the man of the hour – William.
You are then led through rooms with, for example, a huge blown-up letter from William’s wife Wilhelmina to their daughter Louise telling her how lovely Fulda is, sparkling jewels, the desk at which the constitution was written and even a little church book belonging to Queen Emma. The baroque castle is amazing as a backdrop for this exhibition, and there’s even a room with mirrors on the floor where you can take selfies with the grand ceiling.
Several modern elements are included in the exhibition, such as prints, mirrors, dresses, furniture and artwork (which had serious Winterhalter vibes). Quite impressive were the huge heraldic lion made from glass and the entire miniature room, which also comes with its own publication.
The final room of the exhibition is dedicated to modern takes on the clothes and is set up in a ballroom style. This is also where visitors exit the building and go into the garden.
The exhibition is well worth a visit, and do not hesitate as it will only run until 28 August 2022. The Stadtschloss is open every day and a regular ticket will cost you €12.00. You can find more information here.
Fulda is part of the so-called Orange route. In addition to this royal town, we also visited Dillenburg – the birthplace of William of Orange, Braunfels with its magnificent castle and a beautiful collection of royal portraits in Siegen. You’ll be able to read about those soon as well.
I will leave you with a quote from my book about Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau, who was William’s aunt and godmother. Shortly after his birth, she wrote “I accept with much satisfaction the title of godmother of which you do me the honour of giving me. I embrace my two godchildren often in thought … I am curious to know if Loulou will call her brother Bololo and if the little chap will patiently endure it as his father did.” The little chap did quite well for himself!
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