Statues and Monuments: William of Orange


William was born Prince of Orange in the modern day Netherlands in 1650, his father having died just weeks before his birth. His mother was Princess Mary, the daughter of King Charles I of England. He became Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic in 1672 and was a staunch advocate of Dutch Freedom, opposing both the French and the English. He married another Princess Mary, this time the daughter of James, Duke of York (later to become King James II) in 1677. Ten years later William and Mary were invited by leading nobles to replace the unpopular King James II as joint rulers. William landed at Brixham in Devon on 5th November and together with a large army (made up of forces he had brought with him from the continent and defecting units from the Kings forces). It soon became evident that there was little or no support for King James and he decided to flee the country. James was apprehended by a group of fishermen and brought back but he escaped again and this time successfully made it to France, thus relieving William and Mary of the tricky problem of what to do with their deposed father/father-in-law. Parliment proclaimed William and Mary as monarchs and they ruled jointly until Mary’s death in 1694 after which William continued as sole monarch until his death in 1702.


This rather weather-worn statue is on the harbourside at Brixham in Devon as a memorial to the place where the new King first landed in England.

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