Prince Claus (1926-2002)

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Claus van Amsberg was born on 6 September 1926 to Claus-Felix von Amsberg and Gösta von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen in the German settlement of Dötzingen. After his marriage to Princess Beatrix, he was given the title Prince Claus, Prince of the Netherlands and Esquire of Amsberg.

The life of Prince Claus

Prince Claus finished his secondary education in 1944, after which he was immediately called up for military service. After three months of Panzer tank training in Denmark, he was sent to Italy. The Prince never took part in any fighting. In 1945 he was taken as a prisoner of war by the Americans and used as a driver and interpreter. That same year he was discharged and he settled in Hitzacker.
Prince Claus had to earn his secondary school diploma again in 1947, as his wartime diploma was not recognised. He then went on to study law at the University of Hamburg. Starting in 1957, he joined the West German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, becoming a diplomat.

On New Year’s Eve in 1962, Claus van Amsberg made the acquaintance of Princess Beatrix. After various encounters, their engagement was announced on 28 June 1965. This did not go off without a hitch, because it had been only 20 years after the war and the German nationality of the Prince was still a sensitive topic in the Netherlands. They married on 10 March 1966 in Amsterdam’s city hall. After their wedding, the couple moved into Drakensteyn Castle and had three sons: Willem-Alexander (1967), Friso (1968) and Constantijn (1969).

In the early Nineties, Prince Claus was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. From that moment on, his health slowly declined. After he was treated for prostate cancer in 1998, periods of illness became increasingly frequent. On 6 October 2002, Prince Claus passed away. A week later, Prince Claus of the Netherlands was interred in the Royal Family’s tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft.

Work of Prince Claus

Throughout his life, Prince Claus had various positions, including at the Dutch central bank De Nederlandsche Bank, the telecommunications company Koninklijke PTT Nederland and the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. He paid special attention to development cooperation. Additionally, he had a wide range of interests, including the preservation of historic buildings and sites, music, spatial planning, technological innovations, nature and the environment.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the Prince Claus Fund for culture and development was established. Every year, the Prince Claus Prize is awarded for initiatives that make a special contribution to culture and development in third world countries.