After a recommendation from high-ranking Dutch naval officers that the Koninklijke Marine be bolstered so any attacker would have to "use such a large part of his military potential that there would be an unacceptable weakening of his capabilities in other theaters", the Minister of Defense ordered the Navy to prepare designs for a two or three-member class of battlecruisers. A preliminary plan by Dutch designers was completed on 11 July 1939, but as they had not previously designed a modern capital ship the design was missing many of the post-First World War advances in warship technology; in particular, the armor protection was totally outmoded. As the only information available on modern designs came from public literature and editions of Jane's Fighting Ships, the Dutch turned to Germany, which agreed to release plans and drawings based upon their Scharnhorst class in return for a guarantee that all needed equipment would be ordered from German firms. With this assistance a final design was completed by February 1940, but a visit to Italy prompted a rethink of the internal subdivision within the ships to incorporate a rough Pugliese system. This led to a set of drawings dated 19 April 1940, which are the last known design produced prior to Germany's invasion and occupation of the Netherlands.
Born a member of the House of Orange-Nassau, William III won the English, Scottish and Irish Crowns following the Glorious Revolution, during which his uncle and father-in-law, the Catholic James II (VII in Scotland)), was deposed. In England, Scotland and Ireland, William ruled jointly with his wife, Mary II, until her death on 28 December 1694. He reigned as 'William II' in Scotland, but 'William III' in England and Ireland. Often he is referred to as William of Orange, a name he shared with many other historical figures. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, he is often informally known as "King Billy".