Being a king is a lot like being a dad. I say this having been neither, but I reckon it’s true.
That’s because as a dad, you can either be an old dad – one of those dads who has had grey hair since the day you were born and is just totally over of doing anything that isn’t sitting in the corner with a whisky and a very big newspaper – or you can be a cool dad.
As a young kid, you really don’t want a cool dad, because where others see cool, you see embarrassing. Your cool dad will try and be mates with your mates and it makes you want to die inside.
But then you get older and you realise your cool dad genuinely was quite cool – for a dad. There’s only so cool you can be as a dad, because as soon as you have a child something makes you speak purely in terrible puns, and you spend hours a day waiting, praying that someone will ask you to put the kettle on. “IT WON’T SUIT YOU!!” you shout back, day genuinely made. I can’t wait.
Anyway, back to the actual point, like with dads, I reckon that when you’re a king, you can either be an old king – one who does nothing much except wave and look grumpy in photographs – or a cool king – and the Dutch king, King Willem-Alexander, is definitely a cool king.
Why? Because he’s spent the last 21 years living a secret double life as a co-pilot for the Netherlands’ main commercial airline, KLM.
For more than two decades, he has been taking to the skies twice a month, carrying passengers who have no idea it is their literal monarch in the cockpit, with their lives in his hands. Definitely a cool king. And he’s got three kids, so a cool dad too. He’s got it all.
The 50-year-old calls his flights a “hobby” and says it’s “relaxing”, which makes him seem even cooler. To me, having the lives of hundreds of people in your hands while tens of thousands of feet above the ground, stuck inside a big metal tube, sounds quite stressful. TV’s better, I reckon.
He’s actually having to retrain at the moment, as KLM are currently phasing out their smaller Fokker 70 planes – the ones he uses on his short-haul flights – for Boeing 737s.
He says he doesn’t want to do longer flights in case he "cannot get back in time to the Netherlands in case of an emergency", and on keeping his identity secret, he told De Telegraaf:
"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."