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Dutch royals pick up 400-year-old family heirloom during Vatican visit

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin poses with Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima after an audience with Pope Francis (Photo: Getty)

The Dutch king and queen are returning home from a state visit to the Vatican with a royal heirloom: the baton purportedly carried by William of Orange during the 16th-century Dutch War of Independence from Spanish rule.

The head of the Jesuit religious order, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, handed over the wooden baton on Thursday at a ceremony in the Apostolic Library after King Willem-Alexander and his Argentine-born wife, Queen Maxima, met Pope Francis.

According to the Dutch royal household, Spanish Catholic forces took possession of the baton after they quashed the Protestant revolt led by William of Orange at the Battle of Mookerheide in 1574.

The baton had been housed in a Jesuit convent in Spain. It’s going on display at the Dutch military museum in Soesterberg.