The king of the Netherlands has revealed he has been living a secret double life as a co-pilot for a commercial airline.
For 21 years, King Willem-Alexander has taken to the skies twice a month to ferry passengers around on short-haul services for the Dutch airline KLM.
Although travellers may have recognised the monarch’s voice as he updated them on weather conditions and their time of arrival, the royal’s presence was never revealed.
The fleet of smaller Fokker 70 planes flown by the king are now being phased out by KLM, meaning he needs to take time out to retrain and learn to fly Boeing 737s.
The 50-year-old royal described his casual flights as a “hobby” – and said occasionally being able to leave his royal duties behind to concentrate on flying was “relaxing”.
The father-of-three says he has no plans to learn how to fly a bigger aircraft, as flights which involve an overnight stop mean he “cannot get back in time to the Netherlands in case of an emergency”.
On staying incognito, he told De Telegraaf newspaper: “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.”