King William became seriously ill in 1887. He was suffering from a kidney-ailment. However, in 1888, he personally presented a gold medal of honor to the lifeboat hero Dorus Rijkers, for saving the lives of 20 people.
in 1888 and 1889 the ailing King became increasingly demented. The Council of State and then Queen Emma became regents. William III died in Het Loo in 1890. Because Wilhelmina had not yet reached adulthood, Emma became regent for her daughter. She would remain regent until Wilhelmina’s eighteenth birthday in 1898.
Because the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg could only be inherited through the male Nassau line under the terms of the house-treaty of the House of Nassau, it went to William’s 17th cousin once removed (and incidentally Emma’s uncle on her mother’s side), Adolphe, Duke of Nassau. His branch of the House of Nassau still governs the Grand Duchy