William II (Willem Frederik George Lodewijk van Oranje-Nassau) (December 6, 1792 – March 17, 1849) was King of the Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Duke of Limburg from 7 October 1840 until his death.
When William was three he and his family fled to England after allied British-Hanoverian mercenaries left the Republic and entering French troops joined the anti-orangist Patriots. William spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court. There he followed a military education and served in the Prussian army. Afterwards he studied at the University of Oxford.
In 1815, William became crown prince and he took service in the army when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba. He fought as commander of the Dutch-Belgian forces at the Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815) and the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), where he was wounded. He showed personal courage and energy, but frequently displayed atrocious military judgement, leading to many heavy casualties. The Duke of Wellington attributed this to his lack of command experience, however, rather than to him being a bad leader.
In 1819, he was blackmailed over what the then Minister of Justice Van Maanen termed in a letter as his "shameful and unnatural lusts": presumably bisexuality. He may also have had a relationship with a dandy by the name of Pereira.
William II enjoyed considerable popularity in Belgium, as well as in the Netherlands for his affability and moderation, and in 1830, on the outbreak of the Belgian revolution, he did his utmost in Brussels as a peace broker, to bring about a settlement based on administrative autonomy for the southern provinces, under the House of Orange-Nassau. His father afterwards rejected the terms of accommodation that he had proposed; afterwards, relations with his father were tense.
In April 1831, William II was leader of the ten day campaign in Belgium which was driven back to the North by French intervention. European intervention established Leopold of Saxe-Gotha on the new throne of Belgium. Peace was finally established between Belgium and the Netherlands in 1839.
On October 7, 1840, on his father's abdication, he acceded the throne as William II. Like his father he was conservative and less likely to initiate changes. He intervened less in policies than his father did. There was increased agitation for broad constitutional reform and a wider electoral franchise. And though he was personally conservative and no democrat, he acted with sense and moderation.
The Revolutions of 1848 broke out all over Europe. In Paris the Bourbon-Orléans monarchy fell. William became afraid of revolution in Amsterdam. One morning he woke up and said: "I changed from conservative to liberal in one night". He gave orders to Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to create a new constitution which included that the Eerste Kamer (Senate) would be elected indirectly by the Provincial States and that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) would be elected directly. Electoral system changed into census suffrage in electoral districts (in 1917 census suffrage was replaced by common suffrage for all men, and districts were replaced by party lists of different political parties), whereby royal power decreased sharply. That constitution is still in effect today.