Dutch king reveals he’s been leading secret double life as a pilot

The King of the Netherlands has revealed that for the past 21 years he has been operating as a pilot for the national carrier, KLM.

The Netherlands’ 50-year old king guest co-pilots two flights a month for KLM, the country’s flag carrier airlines. All the while, his passengers had been left in the dark. He finally divulged his secret double life to Dutch newspaper Der Telegraaf in an interview published Wednesday.

He will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s as the Fokkers are being phased out of service.

While it is no secret that King Willem-Alexander is a qualified pilot who sometimes flew KLM passenger flights, it was not clear how frequently it happened.

He welcomes customers on board “on behalf of the captain and crew” – rather than revealing his true identity – and said he is rarely recognised in pilot’s uniform anyway.

“The advantage is that I can always say I am speaking on behalf of the captain and crew to welcome them on board, so I don’t have to say my name.

“But then, most people don’t listen anyway,” he said.

“I find flying simply fantastic,” he told the newspaper. “You can’t take your problems with you off the ground. You can completely switch off for a while and focus on something else.”

The 50-year-old father of three and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens calls flying a ‘hobby’ that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else.

Willem-Alexander became Europe’s youngest king when Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013, in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.