Royal Palace of Laeken

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Royal Palace of Laeken
Kasteel van Laken (Dutch)
Château de Laeken (French)
Schloss Laken (German)
0 Château Royal de Laeken.JPG
Main façade of the Royal Palace of Laeken
General information
Town or city Laeken (Brussels)
Country Belgium
Construction started 1782
Client Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Teschen
Owner Monarchy of Belgium
Design and construction
Architect Charles de Wailly
Engineer Louis Montoyer
Design for the central dome of the royal greenhouses

The Royal Palace of Laeken (Dutch: Kasteel van Laken [kɐsˈteːl vɐn ˈlaː.kə(n)], French: Château de Laeken, German: Schloss Laken) is the official residence of the King and Queen of the Belgians and their family. It is in the Brussels region, and is 5 km (3 mi) north of the city centre in the Laeken neighbourhood. It sits in a large park called the Royal Domain of Laeken which is off-limits to the public.

It should not be confused with the Royal Palace of Brussels, located in central Brussels, which is the official palace (not residence) of the King of the Belgians and from which affairs of state are handled.

History[edit]

Engraving of the Royal Palace from Pierre-Jacques Goetghebuer (1827): Choix des monuments

The palace was built at Laeken, then outside of Brussels, between 1782-1784 after the plans of the French architect Charles de Wailly under supervision of Louis Montoyer as a summer residence for the Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria and her husband Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Jean-Joseph Chapuis provided the royal furnitures.

On 21 July 1803, Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as commissioner of the department of the Dijle, received Napoleon at the Palace of Laeken. Napoleon stayed here with his Empress in August 1804 on his way from awarding the first Légion d'honneur to his invasion troops at Boulogne to his progress along the Rhine, and later (on invading Belgium during the Hundred Days in 1815) dated this proclamation prematurely from the palace.

To the Belgians and the inhabitants of the left bank of the Rhine. - The ephemeral success of my enemies detached you for a moment from my empire. In my exile, upon a rock in the sea, I heard your complaint; the God of Battles has decided the fate of your beautiful provinces; Napoleon is among you; you are worthy to be Frenchmen. Rise in a body; join my invincible phalanxes to exterminate the remainder of these barbarians, who are your enemies and mine: they fly with rage and despair in their hearts. - The Imperial Palace of Lacken, 17 June 1815. (Signed) Napoleon, The Imperial Palace of Lacken, 17 June 1815. By the Emperor, The Major-General of the Army, Count Bertrand."[1]

Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, as burgomaster of Brussels, received the new king Leopold I of Belgium also at the Palace of Laeken on 21 July 1831, the day when Leopold swore allegiance to the Belgian constitution. The palace was partly destroyed by fire in 1890 and rebuilt by Alphonse Balat. The French architect Charles Girault gave it its present outline in 1902. It has been the royal residence since the accession to the throne of king Leopold I in 1831. The domain also contains the magnificent Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, a set of monumental dome-shaped constructions, accessible to the public only a few days a year. They were designed as well by Alphonse Balat, with the cooperation of the young Victor Horta.

The vast parks of the Royal Domain include lakes, a golf course and various pavilions like the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower. The Chinese Pavilion was commissioned by king Leopold II. The rooms are designed in a 'Chinoiserie' Louis XIV-style and Louis XVI style. They are decorated with Chinese motifs, chinaware and silverware. The Japanese Tower is a pagoda, originally built for the world fair of Paris in 1900. It was bought by King Leopold II and brought to Brussels.

Upon their accession to the throne in 1993, King Albert II and Queen Paola preferred to remain living at Belvédère, a château on the grounds of the park surrounding the palace. The current occupants of the palace are Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and their four children.

Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire built a palace in his hometown of Gbadolite modelled upon the Royal Palace of Laeken.[2]

Gallery[edit]

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Coordinates: 50°53′11″N 4°21′35″E / 50.88639°N 4.35972°E / 50.88639; 4.35972