Albert II of Belgium
|King of the Belgians|
|Reign||9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013|
|Spouse||Queen Paola (1959–present)|
|Philippe of Belgium
Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
|House||House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Father||Leopold III of Belgium|
|Mother||Astrid of Sweden|
6 June 1934 |
Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
|Royal styles of
Albert II of Belgium
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
|Belgian Royal Family|
HM King Albert II
Albert II (born 6 June 1934) reigned as King of the Belgians from 1993 until his abdication in 2013. He is a member of the royal house of Belgium; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He is the uncle of the current reigning Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Henri.
On 3 July 2013, King Albert II attended a midday session of the Belgian cabinet. He then announced that on 21 July, he would abdicate the throne for health reasons. He was succeeded by his son Philippe on 21 July 2013. Albert II was the fourth monarch to abdicate in 2013, following Pope Benedict XVI, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Emir Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar. In doing so, he was also the second Belgian king to abdicate following his father, King Leopold III, who abdicated in 1951, albeit under very different circumstances.
Albert's full name is Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie in French (pronounced: [albɛʁ feliks œ̃bɛʁ teodɔʁ kʁistjɑ̃ øʒɛn maʁi]), Albert Felix Humbert Theodoor Christiaan Eugène Marie in Dutch (pronounced [ˈʔɑlbəɾt ˈfelɪks ˈɦʏmbəɾt teːjoˈdoːɾ ˈkɾɪstijaːn ʔøːˈʒɛːn maˈɾiː]), and Albert Felix Humbert Theodor Christian Eugen Maria in German (pronounced [ˈʔalbɛʁt ˈfeːlɪks ˈhʊmbɛʁt ˈteːodoːɐ̯ ˈkʁɪsti̯an ˈʔɔʏɡən maˈʁiːa]).
Albert is the second son of King Leopold III (1901–1983) and his first wife, Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). He ascended to the throne in 1993, following the death of his older brother, King Baudouin, who died without issue. His godparents were Felix of Bourbon-Parma and his paternal grandmother, Elisabeth of Bavaria. He is the first cousin of King Harald V, Princess Astrid, and Princess Ragnhild of Norway.
Prince Albert was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, Brussels. On 10 May 1940, at the time when Belgium was being invaded, Prince Albert, his elder sister Princess Joséphine-Charlotte and his elder brother Prince Baudouin, left the country for France and later Spain. The Prince and the Princess returned to Belgium on 2 August 1940. They continued their studies until 1944, either at Laeken, or at the Chateau of Ciergnon in the Ardennes. In June 1944, at the time of the Allied landings, King Leopold III, Princess Lilian – whom he married in 1941 – and the royal children were deported by the Germans to Hirschstein, Germany, and later to Strobl, Austria, where they were liberated by the American Army on 7 May 1945. Due to the political situation in Belgium, King Leopold and his family moved to the villa "Le Reposoir" in Pregny, Switzerland, when they left Austria in October 1945 and stayed until July 1950. During that time, Prince Albert would continue his education in a secondary school in Geneva. King Leopold III, accompanied by Prince Baudouin and Prince Albert, returned to Belgium on 22 July 1950.
Marriage and family
In 1958, The Prince Albert, Prince of Liège, went to the Vatican to witness the coronation of Pope John XXIII. At a reception at the Belgian Embassy, the prince met Italian Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria. “We were both shy, so we only talked a little,” Paola said later about their first meeting. Shy but smitten, Prince Albert proposed marriage to Paola, and she accepted. Two months after their meeting, the Prince introduced his future wife to his family, and four months later to the press. Upon arriving in Brussels for the first time before her wedding, Princess Paola won over the Belgian media immediately.
They wanted a marriage at the Vatican at first, a setting promoted by both families, but the Belgian government did not approve of that. They did not want to keep a fairy tale wedding from the people of Belgium, who finally had an opportunity for organizing celebrations for their royal family. The Pope, after some diplomatic pressure, refused them a marriage at the Vatican, saying he would understand if the couple would want to get married amidst their people.
On 2 July 1959 he married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria (born 11 September 1937) in Brussels. She is the daughter of Fulco VIII, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda and his wife, Countess Luisa Gazelli di Rossana e di Sebastiano (1896–1989). Together they have three children, two sons and a daughter:
- HM King Philippe of the Belgians (born 15 April 1960). On 4 December 1999, the then Duke of Brabant married Jonkvrouwe Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 20 January 1973), who was created HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium a day before their marriage. She is a daughter of the late Count Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz and his wife, Countess Anna Maria Komorowska. The current King and Queen have four children, two sons and two daughters:
- HI&RH Princess Astrid of Belgium (born 5 June 1962). On 22 September 1984, she married HI&RH Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia (born 16 December 1955), who was created a Prince of Belgium in 1995. They have five children, two sons and three daughters:
- HI&RH Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este (born 21 February 1986) married on 5 July 2014 to Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein.
- HI&RH Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (born 26 August 1988)
- HI&RH Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este (born 9 December 1991)
- HI&RH Princess Luisa Maria of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (born 11 October 1995)
- HI&RH Princess Laetitia Maria of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (born 23 April 2003)
- HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium (born 19 October 1963). On 12 April 2003, He married Claire Coombs (born 18 January 1974), an Anglo-Belgian former real-estate agent. She was created HRH Princess Claire of Belgium 11 days before their marriage. They have three children, twin sons and one daughter:
Since 1999, the media have claimed that the Belgian sculptor Delphine Boël (born in 1968) is King Albert II's extramarital daughter. In June 2013, Boël summoned the then King, the then Duke of Brabant and the Archduchess of Austria-Este to appear in court. She hopes to use DNA tests to prove that she is the King's daughter. As the King enjoyed complete immunity under the law, Boël decided to summon his elder children as well. After the King's abdication, she abandoned her first suit to introduce a second one only against the King as he is no longer protected by immunity and the first claim would have been judged according to the situation at the time of the introduction of the claim.
As the younger brother of King Baudouin, Prince Albert was the heir-presumptive to the throne. However his son Prince Philippe was groomed to be Baudoin's successor, once it became clear that the King would have no children to succeed him. However, on Baudouin's death (at age 62), Albert was sworn in before parliament on 9 August 1993 as the sixth King of the Belgians.
As King, Albert's duties included representing Belgium at home and abroad on state visits, trade missions, and at high level international meetings as well as taking an interest in Belgian society, culture and enterprise.
In 1984, he set up the Prince Albert Foundation, to promote expertise in foreign trade.
The King had a constitutional role which came into play in 2010–2011 when Belgium's parliament was unable to agree on a government. When the crisis was resolved, Albert swore in the new government.
In January 2012, Albert announced that the royal family would freeze their allowances and use a greater proportion of their income to maintain the royal palaces.
Albert sparked controversy in his December 2012 Christmas speech by comparing modern "populist movements" with those of the 1930s. This was seen by several political commentators, as well as many Flemish politicians, as aimed implicitly at the large Flemish nationalist party, the N-VA. Bart De Wever, the party's leader, called for the king's role in the formation of Belgian governments to be changed in the wake of this comment since he "could no longer see the monarch as playing the constitutional role of referee."
On 3 July 2013, 79-year old King Albert II attended a midday session of the Belgian cabinet, where he revealed his intention to abdicate to Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and to the Deputy Prime Ministers. According to a letter sent by the King to the Prime Minister and dated 3 July 2013, and which was made public, the King had already broached the topic of his intention to abdicate several times with the Prime Minister, who had asked him to reconsider it. At 6 PM (CET) the King announced in a recorded radio and television speech that on 21 July, Belgium's National Day, he would abdicate the throne for health reasons. He was succeeded by his son, Philippe of Belgium. Albert II retained the title of king after the abdication.
Titles and styles
- 6 June 1934 – 7 June 1934:: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Belgium
- 7 June 1934 – 9 August 1993:: His Royal Highness The Prince of Liège
- 9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013:: His Majesty The King of the Belgians
- 21 July 2013 – present: His Majesty King Albert II of Belgium
After his announced abdication on 21 July 2013 it was decided that he would be styled as His Majesty King Albert II, the same form of address granted to his father, Leopold III, after his abdication.
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- Former Grand Master (1993-2013) of the Order of Leopold, Order of the African Star (dormant order), Royal Order of the Lion (dormant order), Order of the Crown and Order of Leopold II
Recipient of numerous foreign decorations, Albert II is one of the few European leaders to be both a Knight of the Golden Fleece in Austria (awarded in 1962 by Archduke Otto von Habsburg) and Knight of the Golden Fleece in Spain (awarded in 1994 by King Juan Carlos).
The list of his honorifical decorations (to be expanded) consists of :
|Austria||Great Star of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (1958)|
|Bulgaria||Cordon of the Order of Stara Planina (2003)||Photo|
|Denmark||Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog|
|Knight of the Order of the Elephant (R. af E.)||Photo|
|Estonia||Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (2008)||Ph.1, Ph.2|
|Finland||Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (2004)||Photo|
|Germany||Grand Cross, Special Class, of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic||Photo|
|Greece||Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (before 2001 ?)||Photo|
|Hungary||Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Civilian Class||Photo|
|Holy See||Knight of the Collar of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (1995)||website|
|Iceland||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon (16 October 1979)||Website|
|Italy||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (29 October 1973)|
|Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (12 May 1998)|
|Japan||Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum||Ph. 1, Ph. 2|
|Latvia||Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Three Stars (2007)||recipients list (.doc)|
|Lithuania||Golden Collar of the Order of Vytautas the Great||News, Photo|
|Luxembourg||Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau||Photo|
|Monaco||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Charles (1957)||Photo|
|Morocco||Special Class of the Order of Muhammad|
|Netherlands||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion||Photo|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau|
|Norway||Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. Olav||Photo|
|Poland||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle||Photo|
|Portugal||Grand Cordon of the Military Order of Aviz (GCA, 11/12/1985)||Orders website|
|Grand Collar of the Order of the Infante Dom Henrique (GColIH, 13/12/1999)||Photo|
|Romania||Sash (Collar) of the Order of the Star of Romania (2009)||Recipients table|
|Spain||Sash (Collar) of the Order of the Golden Fleece (16 September 1994)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (15 November 1977)|
|Sweden||Knight with Collar of the Order of the Seraphim (RSerafO)||Photo|
|United Kingdom||Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)||Photo|
|Malta||Bailiff and Knight Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
|Former sovereign families|
|Austrian Empire||Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece (House of Habsburg)|
|K. of France||Knight of the Order of Saint Michael – (House of Bourbon)|
|House of Savoy||Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation|
|House of Savoy||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus|
King Albert is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Catholic University of Leuven, the Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Ghent University, Free University of Brussels, the Catholic university of Mons and the Polytechnic Faculty of Mons.
Constitutionally, powers of coinage are vested with the King. Since coins are issued in his name, his effigy is found on the obverse of coins intended for general circulation.
Exceptions are made for some commemorative or collectors' coins where his effigy is on neither side of the coin.
- Line of succession to the Belgian throne
- Crown Council of Belgium
- Royal Trust
- Prince Albert Fund
- Michel Didisheim, former private secretary
- Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou (private secretary)
- Frank De Coninck, (former) Marshal of the Royal Household
- Matthew Price. "Belgium's King Albert II announces abdication". Bbc.co.uk.
- "King Albert II". http://www.monarchie.be. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Stroobants, Jean-Pierre (17 June 2013). "En Belgique, la fille adultérine d'Albert II exige une reconnaissance officielle". Le Monde. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Bacchi, Umberto (18 June 2013). "Belgium: King Albert’s ‘Disowned Natural Daughter’ Delphine Boel Seeks Recognition in Court". International Business Times. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Le Vif, "Chacun sait que le roi Albert est le père biologique de Delphine Boël"
- "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – Royal Family – King Albert II". Monarchie.be.
- "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today". Monarchie.be.
- "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today – Royal Initiatives – Prince Albert Fund". Monarchie.be.
- "Belgium swears in new government headed by Elio Di Rupo". BBC News. 6 December 2011.
- "Belgium King Albert II Christmas speech sparks controversy". BBC News Online. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Letter of King Albert II to Prime Minister Di Rupo announcing his intention to abdicate". Scribd.com.
- Freek Willems, Dirk Reynaers. "België heeft vanaf 21 juli 2 koningen en 3 koninginnen (Dutch)". Deredactie.be.
- ""Koning der Belgen" versus "Koning" (Dutch)". Deredactie.be.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 53. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Belga Pictures, Photo of King Albert II wearing the Order's rosette at Melsbroek Airport before taking off to Greece
- Albert, ríkisarfi – Belgía – 16 October 1979 – Stórkross (= Albert, Heir, Belgium, 16 October 1979, Grand Cross
- Royauté-News, received – as Prince Albert of Liège – in 1957 during an inauguration of a monument in memory of King Albert I of the Belgians in Monaco
- Boletín Oficial del Estado
- Boletín Oficial del Estado
- fr:Article 112 de la Constitution belge
- Belgian coinage
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Albert II of Belgium.|
- Official Belgian monarchy web site
- "Belgium defends king against 'assault'". BBC News. 18 September 2001.
- The Royal Belgium Orders
Albert II of BelgiumBorn: 6 June 1934
|King of the Belgians
Robert van Schendel
|Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony