Being a monarch is a tough — all the responsibilities and socializing stuff — but one particular king found the time cultivate a secret, part-time job … for 21 years.
Willem-Alexander, the king of the Netherlands, just revealed that he has flown twice a month for two decades as KLM co-pilot while his passengers were in the dark.
In an interview with newspaper De Telegraaf, Willem-Alexander, 50, calls flying a “hobby” that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else.
“You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them,” the king told De Telegraaf. “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.”
The Dutch king was a “guest pilot” on the KLM’s fleet of Fokker 70 planes and before that on Dutch carrier Martinair.
As Fokker aircrafts are being phased out of service, the king is now training to fly Boeing 737s.
It was widely known that Willem-Alexander had a passion for flying, but this is the first time that the frequency of those flights is revealed.
Before 9/11, when airlines frequently kept the doors to the cockpit open, passengers were more likely to spot Willem-Alexander as their co-pilot.
“People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there,” he said
However, things have changed since the attack, plane security was increasingly tightened.
The king never uses his name when addressing passengers and few people recognize him in uniform and wearing his KLM cap.
Surprisingly though, he admitted that some people had recognized his voice.
“The advantage is that I can always say that I warmly welcome passengers on behalf of the captain and crew,” he said. “Then I don’t have to give my name.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting.