January 2013

There is to be a new King Willem in The Netherlands following the announcement that 75-year old Queen Beatrix would abdicate in April.

Over three hundred years after his ancestor Willem III van Oranje (William III Great Britain and Ireland) and his wife Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to design a home for naval veterans, Crown Prince Willlem-Alexander of Orange will ascend to the Dutch throne.

Today Wren’s buildings - the Old Royal Naval College - are amongst the UK’s most popular heritage attractions and were visited by the Crown Prince last year.  During the visit he had the opportunity to see the Painted Hall where his illustrious ancestors occupy pride of place in Sir James Thornhill’s paintings in the lower hall.  The subject of the main oval on the ceiling is the triumph of peace and liberty over the forces of tyranny. William and Mary personify peace and liberty and are at the very centre of the painting.

The Painted Hall is currently undergoing the first phase of a major conservation programme with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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