Queen Mathilde of Belgium

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Mathilde
Queen consort of the Belgians, Princess of Belgium
Belgian Queen Mathilde.jpg
Mathilde waves to the crowds following the swearing in of her husband
Queen consort of the Belgians
Tenure 21 July 2013 - present
Spouse Philippe, King of the Belgians
Issue Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
Prince Gabriel
Prince Emmanuel
Princess Eléonore
Full name
Mathilde Marie Christine Ghislaine
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (by marriage)
Comital House d'Udekem d'Acoz (by birth)
Father Count Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz
Mother Countess Anna Maria Komorowska
Born (1973-01-20) 20 January 1973 (age 41)
Uccle, Belgium
Religion Roman Catholicism

Mathilde DHS (born Mathilde Marie Christiane Ghislaine d'Udekem d'Acoz on 20 January 1973) is the Queen of the Belgians as the wife of King Philippe, who ascended the throne following the abdication of his father, King Albert II, on 21 July 2013. She is the first Belgian-born Queen consort of the Belgians, and the only one with noble parents among the current queens consort of Europe.

Biography[edit]

Early life and family[edit]

Queen Mathilde was born Jonkvrouw Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz in Uccle on 20 January 1973. Though her grandfather and her uncle were barons, she and her father were members of the untitled nobility.

Mathilde grew up at the family estate, Castle Losange in Villers-la-Bonne-Eau (fr), Bastogne.

Mathilde's father was Count (formerly Jonkheer) Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz (Uccle, 28 April 1936 – Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, 25 September 2008), son of Baron Charles d'Udekem d'Acoz (Ghent, 8 March 1885-Proven, 7 December 1968), who was of Walloon noble ancestry; her mother was Countess Anna Maria Komorowska (born 24 September 1946 in Białogard, Poland), daughter of Count Leon Michael Komorowski (Siedliska, 14 August 1907 – 1992) and Polish Princess Zofia María Sapieha of Krasiczyn, Clan Lis (Bobrek, 10 October 1919-Herstal, 14 August 1997). The Komorowski family is well known for Count Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski (1895–1966), Polish Commander-in-Chief and Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile, as well as for Count Bronisław Komorowski (* 1952), the current President of Poland.

Upon her marriage to Prince Philippe of Belgium, the Duke of Brabant in 1999, King Albert II of the Belgians elevated the family d'Udekem d'Acoz from the baronial to the comital rank, hereditary in the male lineage. Upon the accession of her husband, Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant to the throne of Belgium she became the first Belgian queen consort of native Belgian nationality.[1][2]

Mathilde is the oldest of five children. She has three younger sisters and one younger brother:

  • Jonkvrouw Marie-Alix d'Udekem d'Acoz (16 September 1974 – 14 August 1997). She died in car crash with her maternal grandmother.
  • Margravine Elisabeth Pallavicini, née Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 17 January 1977) who is married to Margrave Alfonso Pallavicini with whom she has 2 children; Margravine Olympia and Margrave Adalberto.
  • Baroness Hélène Janssen, née Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 22 September 1979) who is married to Baron Nicolas Janssen with whom she has a daughter; Baronne Cordelia Janssen.
  • Count Charles-Henri d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 13 May 1985).

On 29 March 2008, Henri d'Udekem d'Acoz, Princess Mathilde's uncle, told a Belgian newspaper that his brother, Patrick had been admitted to the Erasmus Hospital in Anderlecht, and was dying. The Count was in an irreversible coma and in critical condition. Henri stated that his brother had been ill since January, and his illness had gradually put him into the coma. Henri noted that Mathilde had visited her father in the hospital, as had other members of the Royal Family.[3][4] On 25 September 2008, it was announced that the Count had died, aged 72, in Ottignies.[5]

Education[edit]

Queen Mathilde attended secondary school at the Institut de la Vierge Fidèle in Brussels. She then studied speech therapy at the Institut libre Marie Haps in Brussels from 1991 to 1994 and earned a diploma with high honours (magna cum laude).

Mathilde then worked as a speech therapist in her own practice in Brussels from 1995 to 1999. She also studied psychology at the Université catholique de Louvain and earned a master's degree in psychology with honours (cum laude).

She speaks French, Dutch, English and Italian. Her mother, who spent most of her life outside of Poland, did not teach her Polish, thinking that it would not be necessary. Therefore, Mathilde knows only a few words in Polish.[6]

Marriage and children[edit]

The announcement of Mathilde's engagement to the Belgian heir-apparent Prince Philippe came as a surprise to the country. Mathilde married Philippe on 4 December 1999 in Brussels, civilly at the Brussels Town Hall and religiously at the Cathedral of Saint Michel and Saint Gudula. Mathilde's bridal gown was designed by Edouard Vermeulen. She was made Princess of Belgium on 8 November 1999 (published on 13 November 1999 and effective from 4 December 1999).

The couple have four children:

Princess Elisabeth, the couple's eldest child, is the first in line to the throne and ahead of her younger brothers and sister, who are second, third, and fourth in line to succeed, owing to a change in Belgian succession laws in 1991, allowing for the eldest child to succeed, regardless of gender.

The Queen is also godmother to two princesses: Princess Alexia of the Netherlands and Princess Isabella of Denmark.

Coat of arms of Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde.

Royal role[edit]

As Queen of the Belgians, Mathilde carries out a number of official roles, including representing Belgium on state visits, receiving state visits from abroad, and as patron of many charities. She takes part in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos; since 2007, the Queen has been a member of the Young Global Leaders group.

With King Philippe, she has led economic missions to the USA in 2011 and to Vietnam in 2012.

Since 2009, Queen Mathilde has been the Honorary President of Unicef Belgium. She serves as the World Health Organisation’s Special Representative for Immunization.[7]

She set up the Princess Mathilde fund in 2001, which promotes the care of vulnerable people and awards an annual prize for good works in a particular sector.[8] The sector changes each year: examples include early years education, women's health, and protecting young people from violence.[9] She also presides at the ceremony awarding the King Baudouin International Development Prize.

Titles, styles and honours[edit]

Coat of arms of the House of d'Udekem d'Acoz
Coat of arms of Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz

Titles and Styles[edit]

  • 20 January 1973 - 4 December 1999: Jonkvrouw Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz
  • 4 December 1999 - 21 July 2013: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Brabant
  • 21 July 2013- present: Her Majesty The Queen of the Belgians

Before the wedding, by means of a Royal Order of 8 November 1999, Mathilde was made a princess of Belgium in her own right. This Royal Order entered into force on the date of the wedding. The wife of a Belgian prince used to receive this title automatically, but a special creation is now required. In addition, her father and two uncles were elevated to the rank of count.

Honours[edit]

See also : List of state visits & List of honours of the Belgian Royal Family by country

Belgian honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Ribbon Country Class References
FIN Order of the White Rose Grand Cross BAR.png Finland Finland (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (2004) (Photo)
OESSG Cavaliere di Gran Croce BAR.jpg Holy See Holy See (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (June 2010) (News : 1, 2)
LUX Order of Adolphe Nassau Grand Cross BAR.png Luxembourg Luxembourg (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau (2007) (Photo)
NLD Order of Orange-Nassau - Knight Grand Cross BAR.png Netherlands Netherlands (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (2006) (Photo 1, Photo 2)
Order Sint Olaf 1 kl.png Norway Norway (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Olav (20/05/2003) (Kongehuset)
POL Order Zaslugi RP kl1 BAR.png Poland Poland (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2004) (Photo)
PRT Order of Christ - Grand Cross BAR.png Portugal Portugal (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (08/03/2006) (Orders website)
ESP Isabella Catholic Order GC.svg Spain Spain (Orders) Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (12/05/2000) (Photo)
SWE Order of the Polar Star (after 1975) - Commander Grand Cross BAR.png Sweden Sweden (Orders) Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star (2001) (Photo)

See also[edit]

Ancestors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Her predecessors were, in order of succession, French, Austrian, German, Swedish, Spanish, and Italian.
  2. ^ Lilian, Princess of Réthy was never officially designated as queen consort.
  3. ^ (French) RTL Info – 'Le père de la princesse Mathilde est mourant'
  4. ^ (Dutch) Vader prinses Mathilde ligt op sterven
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Wprost Weekly, The Polish-Belgian Queen (Krolowa polsko-belgijska) 21 December-28, 2008
  7. ^ WHO/Europe press release
  8. ^ Princess Mathilde Fund
  9. ^ "Prix Princess Mathilde" (in French). 

External links[edit]

Belgian royalty
Preceded by
Paola Ruffo di Calabria
Queen consort of the Belgians
2013 – present
Incumbent