History of the organisation
History of the organisationOverview since 1813
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Stadholders, the most important officials in the Dutch Republic, had a private secretariat. Following the French occupation of the Netherlands (1795-1813), Willem I became the country’s first monarch. A Private Secretariat (known as the King’s Office from 1815 onwards) and a General State Secretariat were created to assist him.
Under King Willem II, the King’s Office was merged with the General State Secretariat to form a new institution known as the King’s Office, which from then on served as the constitutional link between the King and his ministers. This was done as part of the Royal Decree of 22 December 1840.
When the principle of ministerial responsibility was introduced in 1848, power shifted from the King to the ministers. Accordingly, the Cabinet, rather than the King, was from then on the hub of the decision-making process. This also affected the position of the Director of the King’s Office.
The Director ceased to act as secretary to the Cabinet from 1862 onwards. However, he did continue to act as secretary to meetings of ministers presided over by the sovereign. The last time that such a meeting was held was in 1906, under Queen Wilhelmina.
In 1891, following the accession of Queen Wilhelmina, the Office became the Queen’s Office.
1900 - 2000
During the Second World War, the staff of the Office were placed on permanent leave. The Director, George van Tets van Goudriaan (1921-1945), followed Queen Wilhelmina into exile in London.
Following the Liberation in 1945, the majority of staff were able to return to their old jobs. After the war Queen Wilhelmina wished to modernise the Office and appointed a former member of the resistance, Miss Marie Anne Tellegen, as Director (1945-1959). Miss Tellegen was the Office’s first female director.
2000 - heden
The constitutional position of the Office was redefined by Royal Decree in 2003 after a parliamentary debate. At the same time, its budget was moved from budget category II (High Councils of State and King’s Office) to budget category III, which also includes the Ministry of General Affairs. Budgetary responsibility for the Office has now therefore been clearly assigned to the Prime Minister, in addition to his political responsibility. However, the Ministry of General Affairs and the Office remain separate entities within the civil service. This was done by Royal Decree of 18 December 2003.
In 2013, with the abdication of Queen Beatrix, the name changed back to the King’s Office.