The Principality of Orange
The title originally referred to the sovereign principality of Orange in southern France, which was a property of the House of Orange (from 1702 Orange-Nassau). Because Orange was a sovereign principality, the title contained feudal rights. In 1673, Louis XIV of France annexed the principality as part of the war actions against the stadtholder-king William III of England (d.1702) undertook against him.
Because William III died childless, the principality was inherited by Frederic of Prussia, who ceded it to France in 1713. In this way the title lost its feudal and secular privileges. The title remained in the Prussian family until 1918, and was also given to Louis de Mailly, whose family still holds the title today.
The Princes of Orange
William the Silent, first Stadtholder of the United Provinces (better known as the Dutch Republic) was the first bearer in the House of Orange within the Netherlands. After his assassination in 1584, the title and position passed down to his son Maurice, who later passed it on to his brother, Frederick-William.
After the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 the title was partly reconstitutionalized in a bill and granted to the eldest son of King Willem I, Prince Willem. In the 19th century the female variant of the title was also granted to the Heir Apparent's wife. Instead of gaining the title by courtesy, the title has to be granted on wives. Princess Maxima, wife of the Heir Apparent, Prince Willem-Alexander, hasn't got the title "Princess of Orange" officially, but she may use it as wife of the Heir Apparent.
The Prince(ss) of Orange is styled "His/Her Royal Highness the Prince(ss) of Orange" (Zijne/Hare Koninklijke Hoogheid de Prins(es) van Oranje)
Bearers of the title (with dates):
as sovereign prince of Orange
Until 1340, it was customary for all sons of the prince of Orange to inherit the title. Only the direct line of descent to Raimund V is shown here.
- Bertrand I of Baux (1171-1181)
- William I of Baux (1182-1218)
- Raymond I of Baux (1218-1282)
- Bertrand IV of Baux (1281-1314)
- Raymond IV of Baux (1314-1340)
- Raymond V of Baux (1340-1393)
- Marie (1393-1417), with her husband John III of Chalons (1393-1418)
- Louis II the Good (1418-1463)
- William VII of Chalon (1463-1475)
- John II of Chalon (1475-1502)
- Henry III of Nassau-Breda (1515 - 1538)
- René of Châlon (1538-1544), nephew of Philibert of Chalons
- William IX, of Nassau (1544-1584), cousin of Rene of Chalons
William is better known as William I of Orange-Nassau; the House of Orange-Nassau starts with him.
as a personal title
as Heir Apparent
- Willem (Willem II) (1815-1840, title dropped on accession to the throne)
- Willem (Willem III) (1840-1849, title dropped on accession to the throne)
- Willem, eldest son of Willem III from his 1st marriage (1849-1879)
- Alexander, second son of William III from his 1st marriage (1879-1884)
- Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (1980-)
And so the current Heir Apparent is the 15th bearer of the title in the House of Orange-Nassau.