KLM ❤ Dutch Royals

Having celebrated Queen’s Day on 30 April for 64 years, the Netherlands has had to adjust to celebrating King’s Day on 27 April. Here’s hoping the orange sun will shine bright on the festivities tomorrow. KLM would not be KLM without the Dutch royals. Queen Wilhelmina bestowed the predicate “royal” on our airline before it had even been established, which means that, even in those early days, the importance of having a national airline was obvious to her.

The queen’s decision was not without risk, because there were many smaller airlines in those days, each attempting to win a slice of the emerging market, but many of them floundered within a few years, voluntarily or involuntarily. Apparently, the plans forged by KLM’s founders and earliest investors were solid. Let’s face it, we would have been less appealing without our crown and the letter “K” for “Koninklijk” (Royal) in our logo. And personally, I would probably feel less proud if I’d worked for NLM Dutch Airlines.

KLM524206 telegram


KLM’s archives are full of photos depicting minor and major occasions graced by members of the Dutch royal family. I’d like to show you some in this blog. Starting with this telegram dating from 1934, when the crew of the Uiver earned KLM worldwide fame thanks to their success in the London to Melbourne Air Race. Flying a brand-new DC-2, they put in a performance that also impressed Queen Wilhelmina. As soon as Captain Parmentier and his crew touched down, she conveyed her warmest wishes to them by telegram.

Dutch Royals


The royals were globe-trotters, of course. All that remained of KLM during World War II was a single European service (between Bristol and Lisbon) and the so-called West-Indian Operation. Thanks to this Caribbean branch, Princess Juliana, who was in exile with her daughters in Canada, managed to visit the Antilles and Suriname on several occasions, as captured in this photo.

KLM615676 Beatrix en Juliana


Princess Beatrix, who would later ascend to the throne, went on a lengthy tour of the United States in 1959. Naturally, she travelled by KLM aircraft and, having been away so long, her return was celebrated with all due pomp and ceremony. Naturally, her mother, Queen Juliana, was waiting on the platform at the airport, overjoyed to see her daughter set foot on Dutch soil once more.

KLM624452 Claus in simulator

Visiting the work floor

The royals paid regular visits to KLM. Prince Claus was given an introductory tour in 1966, visiting various KLM facilities and Schiphol Airport. It was all part of his familiarisation with Dutch society and the business world ahead of his marriage to Princess Beatrix. The prince was accompanied by President & CEO Van der Wal and various others, and his tour included a look inside a DC-8 flight simulator.

Willem Alexander cockpit

A return visit from KLM

Judging by the photos, the Dutch royal family almost invariably visited KLM. Which is logical, of course. Many of the photos show them boarding or leaving planes, but on one occasion KLM visited Soestdijk Palace. That was in the year Queen Juliana abdicated and her daughter Beatrix took the throne. The queen’s farewell would not have been complete without a parade, and the entire royal family gathered on the palace steps to greet the many well-wishers passing by to pay their respects. The exhibition in the palace gardens in 1980 had a large corner devoted to KLM, marking the 60th anniversary of Dutch civil aviation. The exhibits included an impressive helicopter, which drew the attention of Crown Prince Willem Alexander, who was given a full rundown of its instrumentation.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Berend Brouwer

Is it true King Willem-Alexander still actively flies Fokker 70 for KLM Cityhopper as a guest pilot? This is still mentioned on the site the Toyal House and if so, probably would be the only head of state and certainly the only King in the world flying commercial airlines with a full ATPL license. That would make KLM Royal Dutch Airlines a true Royal airline!!

Frido Ogier

I don’t know Berend, but if mentioned on the site of the Royal House I suppose that it’s correct.

Kind regards,


Berend Brouwer

Toyal = Royal ;-))

Norman Jack

Interestingly, one of then Princess Juliana’s daughters, Margreit, was born in Ottawa, Canada, during that exile, in 1943. The hospital room where she was delivered was declared Dutch territory for the day.

Frido Ogier

Dear Norman, I seems that you are well informed! And still princess Margriet has a special connection with Canada. Thanks for your reply.

Best regards,


Lolita M. Balboa

This blog is really amazing facts about KLM – Thank you very much for providing us important insights about your NUMBER ONE AIRLINE – that’s the reason why KLM is always in my heart. Happy Queens’ Day! – and KUDOS to all people behind KLM and by making KLM number one. My heartfelt congratulations!

Frido Ogier

Thanks Lolita! By the way, it’s King’s Day today :-)

Kind regards,


penelope burreci

Thanks for a very interesting and informative article about KLM’s early days.
Also interesting to read the connection with the Dutch Royal Family. The
nearest I came to any connection was taking the overnight ferry from the Hook
to Harwich on a boat called Koningin Juliana, also recall my brother saw Prince Claus,
briefly, enter a hospital in Utrecht, I think. Grand connections indeed!!!!!
Keep going KLM.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Penelope! Once I saw Queen Beatrix leaving her office in het early days as our head of state, about 34 years ago… I still remember a special occasion like this. :-)

Kind regards,


phil neilson

we wow !!!!!!!

Frank van der Voet

Another remarkable blog – thank you Frido.


You might want to rewrite this entry now. The King himself has made public that still he flies for KLM- retraining to fly the Boeing 737.

The last photo in this blog entry is telling of his passion.

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