After his ascension to the throne in 1813, William Frederick was quickly accepted as a father-monarch who united the various factions previously vying for power in the Dutch Republic. When in 1815 the Sovereign Principality of the Netherlands merged with the former Austrian Netherlands to form the United Kingdom, the new Southern subjects were far less inclined to accept William I as father of the nation. So goes the prevailing interpretation in the historiography, based as it is on politically and culturally elite sources. In this article, we investigate how ordinary folk imagined the new monarch. We examine the identification strategies and monarchical imagery they employed in writing pauper letters, comparing the restoration monarchy with the various regimes that came before it. Ultimately, we conclude that, despite the officially sanctioned imagery, in both North and South, perceptions of the new monarch represented a less distinct rupture with the past than has been thought.