If you’ve ever taken a flight from Newcastle to Amsterdam, you might have been flown to your destination courtesy of a king.

The Dutch monarch King Willem-Alexander has admitted that for the last 21 years he has been working as a pilot for KLM, otherwise known as Royal Dutch Airlines.

King Willem-Alexander flies Fokker 70 aircraft on KLM’s short-haul Cityhopper routes. But now he is retiring from his flying career as the Fokker 70s – which he is qualified to fly – are being phased out.

One of the short-haul routes the Fokkers 70s are used on is from Newcastle to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. So it’s quite possible that if you’ve ever taken this flight, you could have had a royal pilot.

The king has been piloting flights about twice a month for KLM. But now, with larger aircraft due to replace the Fokkers, Willem-Alexander would be obliged to retrain to carry on flying.

Piloting the bigger planes would also mean more overnight stops, meaning the king would have to spend longer outside Holland – causing potential problems should an emergency or political crisis arise.

King Willem-Alexander told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he found flying the planes relaxing and a welcome break from his royal duties.

He said, “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.”

Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognised by passengers, especially since airline security became stricter after 9/11.

The King said, “Before September 11th, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there.”

He added that few people recognise him when he walks through the airport in his uniform or recognise his voice when he makes announcements on the plane.

Willem-Alexander has been the Dutch king since 2013. The father-of-three is monarch to around 17 million people.

(Featured image courtesy of GlynLowe, from Flickr Creative Commons)





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