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Dutch king reveals he has been a KLM pilot for 21 years

The Dutch King is moonlighting as a pilot

The King of the Netherlands has revealed that for the past 21 years he has been operating as a pilot for the national carrier, KLM.

King Willem-Alexander said in an interview with De Telegraaf newspaper Wednesday that he had taken to the skies twice a month on short haul services.

Despite talking over the intercom to passengers for more than two decades, no one ever realised that the Dutch king was at the controls.

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On staying undercover the monarch said he was never under obligation to say his name.

"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," he said.

The 50-year-old royal said being able to leave his royal duties behind to concentrate on flying was "relaxing".

The King will take a break from his pilot duties in order to learn to fly Boeing 737s, KLM's upgrade of choice for its short haul fleet.

The royal said he will only fly short haul as he needs to be able to return to the Netherlands "in case of an emergency".