Netherlands–United Kingdom relations

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom have a strong political and economic partnership.[1]

Dutch-British relations


United Kingdom
Diplomatic mission
Embassy of the Netherlands, LondonEmbassy of the United Kingdom, The Hague
Ambassador Laetitia van den AssumAmbassador Peter Wilson
Maritime boundary between the United Kingdom (Anguilla) and the Netherlands (Saba, Sint Maarten) in the Lesser Antilles

Over forty Dutch towns and cities are twinned with British towns and cities.[2] Both English and Dutch are West Germanic languages, with West Frisian, a minority language in the Netherlands, being the closest relative of the English language if one excludes Scots. In addition, between 90%[3] and 93%[4] of people in the Netherlands claim to speak English, although a negligible percentage of British people can speak Dutch, despite Dutch being one of the easiest languages for English speakers to understand.

The Netherlands has an embassy in London,[5] and the United Kingdom has an embassy in The Hague and a consulate in Amsterdam.[1] The UK also has a consulate in Willemstad, Curaçao.[6]

There are also strong ties[clarification needed] between the UK's overseas territory of Anguilla and the nearby Sint Maarten of the Netherlands.

Country comparison

Kingdom of the Netherlands United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Population 16,925,844[7] 64,596,800[8]
Area 41,543  km2 (16,039 sq mi) 243,610  km2 (94,060 sq mi)
Population density 406.6/km2 (1,053/sq mi) 255.6/km2 (661.9/sq mi)
Time zones 2 1
Capital Amsterdam
(The Hague is the seat of the government)
London (Westminster is the seat of the government)
Largest city Amsterdam – 821,702 (2,332,773 Metro) London – 8,600,000 (13,709,000 Metro)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Head of State Willem-Alexander Elizabeth II
Head of Government Mark Rutte Boris Johnson
Official language Dutch (de facto and de jure), West Frisian (de facto and de jure, but only in the province Friesland) English (de facto), Welsh in Wales
Recognised regional languages Limburgish, Dutch Low Saxon, Zeelandic, English, Papiamento Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Irish, Ulster Scots
Main religions 48.5% Non-Religious, 40.1% Christianity, 8.5% Islam, 1% Buddhism, 0.9% Hinduism, 1.2% Other 59.4% Christianity, 25.7% Non-Religious, 7.8% Unstated, 4.4% Islam, 1.3% Hinduism, 0.7% Sikhism, 0.4% Judaism, 0.4% Buddhism (2011 Census)
Ethnic groups 78.6% Dutch, 5.9% other EU, 2.4% Turks, 2.2% Indonesians, 2.2% Moroccans, 2.1% Surinamese, 0.9% Caribbean, 5.7% others 87% White (81.9% White British), 7% Asian British (2.3% Indian, 1.9% Pakistani, 0.7% Bangladeshi, 0.7% Chinese, 1.4% Asian Other) 3% Black 2% Mixed Race. (2011 Census)
GDP (per capita) $53,024 $42,943
GDP (nominal), as listed by the World Bank in 2014[9] $869,508 million $3,021,886 million
Expatriate populations 40,438 Dutch-born people live in the UK (2001 census) 81,860 people of British origin live in the Netherlands (2014 CBS) [10]


Early Modern Relations

Attack on the Medway during the Second Anglo-Dutch War by Pieter Cornelisz van Soest c. 1667.

In the mid-seventeenth century, after the Dutch had made peace in their war of independence from Spain and the former Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were being united under Cromwell's Commonwealth, Oliver St John was sent to Holland to moot the possibility of unifying the Dutch Republic with the Commonwealth, as fellow Protestant, seafaring republics, though the plan did not come to pass.[11]

The Anglo-Dutch wars were battles between England (and the Kingdom of Great Britain during the fourth war) and the Dutch Republic during the 17th and 18th centuries. There were four wars in total, two were won by each side, and ended with the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The wars were largely fought to secure trade routes and to enable colonial expansion.[12]

Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (VII of Scotland and II of Ireland) in 1688 by a union of Parliamentarians with an invading army led by the Dutch Republic stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange) who, as a result, ascended the English throne as William III of England.[citation needed]

The crisis besetting King James II came to a head in 1688, when the King fathered a son, James Francis Edward Stuart on 10 June (Julian calendar),[13] until then the throne would have passed to his daughter, Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange. The prospect of a Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms was now likely. Already troubled by the King's Catholicism and his close ties with France, key leaders of the Tories united with members of the opposition Whigs and set out to resolve the crisis by inviting William of Orange to England.[14]

The invasion ended all attempts by England, in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, to subdue the Dutch Republic by military force. However, the personal union and the co-operation between the English and Dutch navies shifted the dominance in world trade from the Republic to England and then to the 18th century Kingdom of Great Britain.

Eight Articles of London

The Eight Articles of London, also known as the London Protocol of 21 June 1814, were a secret convention between the Great Powers: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Prussia, Austria, and Russia to award the territory of current Belgium and the Netherlands to William I of the Netherlands, then "Sovereign Prince" of the United Netherlands. He accepted this award on 21 July 1814.[15]

Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 (also known as the Convention of London) was signed between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in London on 13 August 1814. It was signed by Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, for the British and Hendrik Fagel for the Dutch.

The treaty returned the colonial possessions of the Dutch as they were at 1 January 1803 before the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, in the Americas, Africa, and Asia with the exceptions of the Cape of Good Hope and the South American settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, where the Dutch retained trading rights. In addition, the British ceded to the Dutch Bangka Island in the Indonesian Archipelago in exchange for the settlement of Kochi and its dependencies on the coast of Malabar, in India. The Dutch also ceded the district of Barnagore, situated close to Calcutta, in exchange for an annual fee. The treaty noted a declaration of 15 June 1814, by the Dutch that ships for the slave trade were no longer permitted in British ports and it agreed that this restriction would be extended to a ban on involvement in the slave trade by Dutch citizens. Britain also agreed to pay £1,000,000 to Sweden to resolve a claim to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (see Guadeloupe Fund). The British and the Dutch agreed to spend £2,000,000 each on improving the defences of the Low Countries. More funds, of up to £3,000,000, are mentioned for the "final and satisfactory settlement of the Low Countries in union with Holland." Disputes arising from this treaty were the subject of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London (one of several), was signed between the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in London in March 1824. The treaty sought to resolve disputes arising from the execution of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. For the Dutch, it was signed by Hendrik Fagel and Anton Reinhard Falck, and for the UK, George Canning and Charles Williams-Wynn.[16]

World War II

During World War II the United Kingdom and the Netherlands were close allies. After the German occupation of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government found refuge in Britain. The Royal Netherlands Navy brought most of its ships to England.[17]

A few Dutch pilots escaped and joined the Royal Air Force to fight in the Battle of Britain. In July 1940, two all-Dutch squadrons were formed with Royal Netherlands Navy personnel and Fokker seaplanes from the Dutch naval air service: 320 Squadron and 321 Squadron (which afterwards moved to Sri Lanka). In 1943, an all-Dutch fighter squadron was formed in the UK, 322 Squadron.

Political relationship

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte meets Britain's then-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Binnenhof in The Hague.

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are both countries that are run under a constitutional monarchy. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is around 890th in line to the British throne.

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands co-operate on a project to help people living in the developing world adapt to climate change.[18]

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite was the first-ever space-based observatory to perform a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. Launched in 1983, its mission lasted ten months. The telescope was a joint project of the Netherlands (NIVR), and the United Kingdom (SERC) as well as the USA.

While commenting on British-Dutch relations Doug Henderson stated in 1997 that:

We like fair play and straightforwardness. We have a deep interest and a sense of responsibility for what goes on in the wider world. We both share a commitment to global trade and have both traditionally promoted strong trans-Atlantic links. Furthermore, as former colonial powers, we both have important international interests.[19]

His Dutch counterpart Frits Bolkestein responded by saying:

In the past the Netherlands was a staunch supporter of British entry into the European community. Apart from feeling sympathy for the British people, this was motivated by our common value and interests, such as long-standing and deeply-rooted democratic tradition, the Atlantic outlook, the free market orientation and two large multi-nationals, Shell and Unilever, with a common Dutch-British origin.[19]

Economic partnership

Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever are both joint British/Dutch businesses.[20][21][22] The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce was established to further economic co-operation between the two countries.[23] In 2006 the Netherlands imported £16.6bn worth of goods from the United Kingdom, making it the UK's fifth biggest export market.[24] Dutch-British trade is made simpler by good relations, transparent legal framework, sophisticated financial services system, good transport links and close geographical proximity.[24] It is possible to reach either country by train, Eurostar, ferry or aeroplane.[25]


Armed forces

Dutch Marines in a British made Rigid-hulled inflatable boat

The Royal Marines and Netherlands Marine Corps are allied through a 'Bond of friendship'.

Since 1973, units of the Netherlands Marine Corps have formed part of the British 3 Commando Brigade during exercises and real conflict situations. Together, these form the UK/NL Landing Force. Either the First or the Second Marine Combat Group can be assigned as the Dutch contribution to this force.

The co-operation between the Korps Mariniers and the Royal Marines has led to extensive integration in the areas of operations, logistics and materials. Within NATO this is seen as a prime example of what can be achieved in military integration.

In combined NLMC and Royal Marines actions by the British and Dutch navies during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1713), amphibious operations were carried out, the most notable being the capture of Gibraltar in 1704. During this action, a successful attack was carried out against the fortress of Gibraltar by an 1800-strong brigade of Dutch and British Marines under the command of Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt. Both corps share this battle honour.[citation needed]

The nickname of the Dutch Marines among their British Royal Marine counterparts is "Cloggies", a reference to the historic wearing of clogs by some Dutch people. Royal Navy Submarine Service officers taking the Submarine Command Course use a Dutch submarine simulator for part of the course.[citation needed]

See also


  1. "British Embassy The Hague - GOV.UK". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  2. "Country Profile: Netherlands". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  3. European Union
  4. ""English in the Netherlands: Functions, forms and attitudes" p. 316 and onwards" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  5. Zaken, Ministerie van Buitenlandse. "The United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 10 January 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  6. "Worldwide organisations". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  7. CBS Estimate August 2015 -
  8. ONS Estimate June 2014 -
  10. "CBS StatLine - Population; sex, age, origin and generation, 1 January". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  11. Godwin, William (1827). History of the Commonwealth of England Vol. 3. H. Colburn. pps.372-382.
  12. "The First Anglo-Dutch War". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  13. In this article "New Style" means the start of year is adjusted to 1 January. Events on the European mainland are usually given using the Gregorian calendar, while events in Great Britain and Ireland are usually given using the Julian calendar with the year adjusted to 1 January. Dates with no explicit Julian or Gregorian postscript will be using the same calendar as the last date with an explicit postscript.
  14. Barry Coward, The Stuart Age (1980) 298-302
  15. Colenbrander, p. LXX, fn. 1
  16. "traktaat van Londen, 1824". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  17. Neal Wigglesworth, Holland at War Against Hitler: Anglo-Dutch Relations, 1940-1945 (Psychology Press, 1990)
  18. "European Commission : CORDIS : News and Events : UK and Netherlands launch climate change adaptation study". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  19. Ashton, Nigel John; Hellema, Duco (2001). Unspoken Allies. ISBN 9789053564714. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  20. "Too many UK companies fail to see the point of history Queen Mary, University of London". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  21. "Royal Dutch Shell". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  22. "BBC NEWS - Business - Qatar and Shell in $6bn gas deal". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  23. WEBSOLVE B.V. - "NBCC > The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  25. "LONDON to AMSTERDAM by train & ferry or Eurostar from £49". Retrieved 18 May 2016.

Further reading

  • Ashton, Nigel. Unspoken Allies: Anglo-Dutch Relations since 1780. ISBN 978-90-5356-471-4. Google Books
  • Horn, David Bayne. Great Britain and Europe in the eighteenth century (1967). Covers 1603–1702; pp. 86–110.
  • Jones, James Rees. The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century (Routledge, 2013)
  • Levy, Jack S. "The Rise and Decline of the Anglo-Dutch Rivalry, 1609–1689", pp. 172–200 in William R. Thompson, ed. Great power rivalries (1999) online
  • Palmer, M. A. J. "The Military Revolution Afloat: The Era of the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Transition to Modern Warfare at Sea". War in History (1997) 4#2. pp. 123–149.
  • Raven, G. J. A., and Nicholas A. M. Rodger. Navies and Armies: The Anglo-Dutch Relationship in War and Peace, 1688–1988 (John Donald, 1990).
  • Watson, Charles Albert (1969). Britain's Dutch Policy, 1914–1918; The View from British Archives (Ph.D.). Boston University. OCLC 7805023.
  • Wigglesworth, Neil. Holland at War Against Hitler: Anglo-Dutch Relations, 1940–1945 (Psychology Press, 1990)
  • Wilson, Charles Henry. Anglo-Dutch Commerce & Finance in the Eighteenth Century (1941)