Albert II of Belgium

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Albert II
Albert II of Belgium.jpg
King of the Belgians
Reign 9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013
Predecessor Baudouin
Successor Philippe
Prime Ministers
Born (1934-06-06) 6 June 1934 (age 82)
Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
Spouse Paola Ruffo di Calabria
(m. 1959)
Philippe of Belgium
Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Prince Laurent
Full name
Dutch: Albert Felix Humbert Theodoor Christiaan Eugène Marie
French: Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie
German: Albert Felix Humbert Theodor Christian Eugen Maria
House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Leopold III of Belgium
Mother Astrid of Sweden
Religion Roman Catholicism

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 maternal 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.[1] In doing so, he was also the second Belgian monarch to abdicate following his father, King Leopold III, who abdicated in 1951, albeit under very different circumstances.

Full name[edit]

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 [ˈɑlbərt ˈfeːlɪks ˈɦɵmbərt teːjoːˈdoːr ˈkrɪstijaːn øːˈʒɛːn maːˈriː]), and Albrechtt Felix Humbert Theodor Christian Eugen Maria in German (pronounced [ˈʔalbʁɛkt ˈfeːlɪks ˈhʊmbɛʁt ˈteːodoːɐ̯ ˈkʁɪsti̯an ˈʔɔʏɡən maˈʁiːaː]).[2]

Early years[edit]

Albert is the second son and youngest child of King Leopold III (1901–1983) and his first wife, Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). Queen Astrid died in a car accident in August 1935 in which King Leopold was lightly injured but survived. The king later remarried Lilian Baels in 1941 which produced 3 more children: Prince Alexander of Belgium, Princess Marie-Christine of Belgium and Princess Maria-Esmeralda of Belgium. Albert ascended 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.[2] He is the first cousin of King Harald V, Princess Astrid, and Princess Ragnhild of Norway on his mother's side and of Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Parma, Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy and Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy on his father's side.

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.[2]

Marriage and family[edit]

King Albert II and Queen Paola with US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the Royal Palace in Brussels in 2005

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.

The couple, supported by both families, intended to marry at the Vatican. However, the Belgian government disagreed as they felt the Belgian people should not be denied the opportunity to celebrate a royal wedding, particularly after difficult decade post-war. 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 and twelve grandchildren:

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.[3][4] 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.[5] On May 17, 2016 Albert became a great-grandfather to Archduchess Anna Astrid, the daughter of his eldest grandchild Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este.

Official role[edit]

The King reviewing the army During the Belgian National Day, 2011

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. Despite this, on Baudouin's death (at age 62), Albert was sworn in before parliament on 9 August 1993 as the sixth King of the Belgians.[6]

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.[7]

In 1984, he set up the Prince Albert Foundation, to promote expertise in foreign trade.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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."[10]


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.[11] 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.[1] Albert II retained the title of King after the abdication,[12] and has since been styled as His Majesty King Albert II of Belgium.


Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Coat of arms of the King of the Belgians


  • 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 abdication on 21 July 2013 it was decided that he would be styled as His Majesty King Albert II,[13] the same form of address granted to his father, Leopold III, after his abdication.


Personal Standard of King Albert II.

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

Belgian honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]

King Albert II is Doctor Honoris Causa of:

Belgian coinage[edit]

Constitutionally, powers of coinage are vested with the King.[61] 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.[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Matthew Price. "Belgium's King Albert II announces abdication". 
  2. ^ a b c "King Albert II". Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ Stroobants, Jean-Pierre (17 June 2013). "En Belgique, la fille adultérine d'Albert II exige une reconnaissance officielle". Le Monde. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Le Vif, "Chacun sait que le roi Albert est le père biologique de Delphine Boël"
  6. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – Royal Family – King Albert II". 
  7. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today". 
  8. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today – Royal Initiatives – Prince Albert Fund". 
  9. ^ "Belgium swears in new government headed by Elio Di Rupo". BBC News. 6 December 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Belgium King Albert II Christmas speech sparks controversy". BBC News Online. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Letter of King Albert II to Prime Minister Di Rupo announcing his intention to abdicate". 
  12. ^ Freek Willems, Dirk Reynaers. "België heeft vanaf 21 juli 2 koningen en 3 koninginnen (Dutch)". 
  13. ^ ""Koning der Belgen" versus "Koning" (Dutch)". 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Carnet Mondain, [Carnet Mondain, p. 2 ed. 2005] book page with Alberts honours
  15. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 53. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy". 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Albert37.jpg (image)". 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Finnish President Visit To Belgium - Day One Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  24. ^ "President of Greece State Visit To Belgium Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  25. ^ "Hungary?s President Laszlo Solyom on State Visit to Belgium Day 1 Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  26. ^ "Hungary?s President Laszlo Solyom on State Visit to Belgium Day 1 Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "The Holy Sepulchre Ordre". 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "The Belgian King Albert II (L) and Queen Paola (2ndL) and their eldest son, crown Prince Philippe of Belgium (C) are welcomed by Japanese Empress Michiko and Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace...". 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "President of the Republic of Lithuania - The Belgian Royal Couple pays the first visit to Lithuania". 
  37. ^ "Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembou Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  38. ^ "Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembou Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  39. ^ a b Carnet Mondain, p. 2 ed. 2005
  40. ^ "Monaco Royal Wedding - The Religious Wedding Ceremony". 
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Dutch Royal Family Make State Visit To Belgium - Day 1". 
  44. ^ "2006.06.20____.jpg (image)". 
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy". 
  49. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy". 
  50. ^ "Portuguese State Visit To Belgium Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  51. ^ "Portuguese State Visit To Belgium Photos and Images - Getty Images". 
  52. ^
  53. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  54. ^
  55. ^ " - Documento BOE-A-1978-7199". 
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Fairy Tales". 
  58. ^ "Editorial & News Images: News Photography, Pictures, Awards, Events, Sports, Celebrity Photos - Getty Images". 
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ fr:Article 112 de la Constitution belge
  62. ^ "Les pièces de Belgique – Numista". 

External links[edit]

Albert II of Belgium
Born: 6 June 1934
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of the Belgians
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert van Schendel
Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony
Succeeded by
Jean Rey