Astrid of Sweden

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Astrid of Sweden
Queen Astrid in 1935
Queen consort of the Belgians
Tenure23 February 1934 – 29 August 1935
BornPrincess Astrid of Sweden
(1905-11-17)17 November 1905
Arvfurstens palats, Stockholm, Sweden
Died29 August 1935(1935-08-29) (aged 29)
Küssnacht am Rigi, Schwyz, Switzerland
Burial3 September 1935
(m. 1926)
Astrid Sofia Lovisa Thyra[1]
FatherPrince Carl, Duke of Västergötland
MotherPrincess Ingeborg of Denmark

Astrid of Sweden (17 November 1905 – 29 August 1935) was a member of the Swedish House of Bernadotte and later became Queen of the Belgians as the first wife of King Leopold III. Following her marriage to Leopold in November 1926, she assumed the title of Duchess of Brabant.[2] Astrid held the position of Queen of the Belgians from 23 February 1934 until her death in 1935. Known for her charitable efforts, she focused particularly on causes related to women and children.

Astrid and Leopold had three children. Their daughter, Joséphine-Charlotte, later became the Grand Duchess Consort of Luxembourg, while their sons both ascended the throne as King of the Belgians. Astrid was the sister of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway (the wife of the future King Olav V) and a maternal aunt of King Harald V of Norway.

Early life[edit]

Princess Astrid (centre) with her mother Princess Ingeborg and two sisters, Princess Margaretha (left) and Princess Märtha (right).

Princess Astrid was born on 17 November 1905 at her parents’ then-residence, the Arvfurstens Palats at Gustav Adolfs Torg in central Stockholm.[2] She was the third child and youngest daughter of Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland, and his wife, Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. Her father was the third son of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, by his wife, Sophia of Nassau, and was a younger brother of King Gustav V of Sweden. Astrid’s mother was a daughter of King Frederik VIII of Denmark by his wife, Louise of Sweden, and the younger sister of kings Christian X of Denmark and Haakon VII of Norway.[3]

Astrid had two elder sisters, Margaretha, Princess Axel of Denmark, and Märtha, Crown Princess of Norway, as well as a younger brother, Prince Carl Bernadotte (prev. Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Östergötland).[4]

Astrid grew up with her sisters and younger brother at Byström's Villa (also known as Prince Carl's Palace) on the island Djurgården in central Stockholm until 1923, when the family had to leave the house for financial reasons. From 1909, holidays were spent at the family's summer residence Villa Fridhem' by Bråviken, a bay of the Baltic Sea near Norrköping. Astrid was raised with a strict education and little luxury. She attended the Sint Botvid boarding school, where lessons were taught in French, then went on to the Akerstrom-Soderstrom finishing school, where she studied sewing, piano, ballet and childcare.[5] After she finished school, Astrid worked at a Stockholm orphanage where she cared for children.[6]

Engagement and wedding[edit]

Astrid and Leopold's engagement photograph

Due to her royal status, Astrid was named as a potential bride for a number of princes, including the future Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and the future Olav V of Norway.

In September 1926, her engagement with Prince Leopold of Belgium, Duke of Brabant was announced. The King said: "The Queen and I would like to announce to you the impending marriage between Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant, and Princess Astrid of Sweden. We are convinced that the princess will bring joy and happiness to our son. Leopold and Astrid have decided to join their lives without any pressures or reasons of state. Theirs is a true union among people with the same inclinations." Queen Elizabeth said: "It is a marriage of love... tell it to our people. Nothing was arranged. Not a single political consideration prevailed in our son's decision."

Astrid and Leopold on their wedding day

Princess Astrid entered into a civil marriage with Prince Leopold in Stockholm on 4 November 1926, and the pair were married religiously in Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, Brussels on 10 November. The couple travelled separately to Antwerp after their civil marriage, to be reunited in Belgium. The religious marriage was attended by a large wedding party of young friends and relatives: Princess Feodora of Denmark, Princess Marie-José of Belgium, Princess Märtha of Sweden, Princess Ingrid of Sweden, Alfhild Ekelund, Prince Carl of Sweden, Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden, Crown Prince Olav of Norway, Margareta Stähl, Count Claes Sparre, Anna Adelswärd, Prince Charles of Belgium, Count Folke Bernadotte, Baron Sigvard Beck-Friis, Anne Marie von Essen, and Baron Carl Strömfelt.[citation needed]

Princess Astrid was given a tiara created by Belgian jeweler Van Bever as a wedding gift from the Belgian government. The original version of the diadem is a flexible diamond bandeau in a stylized Greek key motif topped with 11 large diamonds on spikes. These large stones, totaling around 100 carats on their own, symbolized the nine provinces of Belgium and the now former Belgian colony of the Congo.[citation needed] She later added a set of diamond arches to enclose each of the 11 independent stones. After Astrid's death, the tiara was in the possession of King Leopold, and his second wife Lilian, Princess of Réthy wore parts of the tiara but not the full set of gems, as Lilian never held the title of Queen. Leopold abdicated the throne in favor of his son Baudouin; when Baudouin married, Leopold gave the tiara to the new queen, Fabiola, who wore it on her wedding day. She handed the jewel over after Baudouin's death to be worn by Queen Paola who, after the abdication of her husband Albert, gave it to Mathilde, the new Queen of the Belgians.[7]

Duchess of Brabant[edit]

Astrid as Duchess of Brabant in 1926.

The Duke and Duchess of Brabant spent their honeymoon in the south of France before moving into a wing of the Royal Palace of Brussels. After the honeymoon period, Princess Astrid began learning French and Dutch.[8] Astrid was enthusiastically adopted by the Belgians for her beauty, charm and simplicity. As the Duchess of Brabant, she worked to alleviate various forms of adversity.[2]

Astrid and Leopold visiting Alfa Romeo in Italy

In October 1927, Leopold and Astrid had a daughter, Princess Joséphine-Charlotte, later Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and mother of Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The birth of Joséphine-Charlotte was a difficult period for Astrid, as women were barred from the line of succession to the throne.[2] One year later, she and her husband visited the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.[9] They arrived on the ship Insulinde.[10] When the couple visited Surakarta, Astrid and her husband received a box with a golden kris inside as a present from the Dutch East Indies government.[10] Princess Astrid received a box with a fan inlaid with gold inside as a gift.[10] Local people admired Princess Astrid's warm, enthusiastic and less formal attitude.[10] The couple visited Radio Poestoko Museum and Societet Habiprojo, where they watched a wayang show.[10] They also visited Surabaya and Bali.[10] After having spent five months in the Dutch East Indies, the couple travelled back to Belgium on the ship Tjerimai.[10] Upon their return, the couple moved into Stuyvenberg Castle.[8] In September 1930, Astrid gave birth to Prince Baudouin, who eventually became King of the Belgians.[citation needed]

Raised as a Lutheran, Astrid converted to Catholicism after marrying Leopold. She had considered converting to Catholicism earlier, as it was the religion of Belgium, but delayed her conversion after consulting Father William Hemmick, who told her to wait until she genuinely believed it was the true religion.[11] Astrid converted to Catholicism in 1930, confiding to a close childhood friend: "My soul has found peace."[12] On the day of Astrid's conversion, her father-in-law King Albert I said: "I am glad, very glad. Now all the family is united in the same religion."[13]

In 1932, Astrid and her husband traveled to Asia and the Congo. According to a May 1933 print of De Locomotief, the photographs of their visit to the Dutch East Indies were published as a collection in a book titled De Reis van Prins Leopold door Ned-Indie.[10] After their visit to the Congo, Astrid wrote to her friend Countess Anna Sparre (née Baroness Anna Adelswärd) about the majestic landscapes of Congo land and her concerns about suffering, poverty and infant mortality that the Congolese faced.[14]

The Duchess of Brabant became a godmother to Anna Sparre's daughter, Christina,[15] and her sister Crown Princess Märtha's second daughter, Princess Astrid.[citation needed]


On 17 February 1934, King Albert I died in a mountain-climbing accident in Marche-les-Dames, Belgium. Leopold and Astrid became the new King and Queen of the Belgians. Later that year, the third child of Leopold and Astrid was born. He was named Albert after his grandfather, and would eventually succeed his brother Baudouin as King of the Belgians. The present King of the Belgians, Philippe, is Albert's son.

As Queen of the Belgians, Astrid dedicated her time to raising her children and promoting social causes that brought her into contact with the Belgians. She was concerned by the situation of women, children, and disadvantaged people. During an economic crisis in Belgium in 1935 she organized the collection of clothing, money and food for the poor through an open letter, published as the "Queen’s Appeal". Queen Astrid also visited poor settlements in Belgium.[14]

Queen Astrid was particularly interested in training women formally in childcare and healthcare.[16] She also supported the training of young girls as dressmakers so they would have better career opportunities.[16] She supported Catholic charitable institutions, such as the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, and liberal organizations, such as the Fédération des Foyers Belges.[16] She also gave audiences to advocates of women's rights such as Baroness Marthe Boël, president of the National Council of Belgian Women.[16]

In May 1935, Queen Astrid patronized Milk Week, an effort to encourage Belgians to drink healthy beverages. She charged Gatien du Parc, one of her courtiers, with the task of preparing a detailed report on milk regulations in foreign countries after a strict investigation.[16] Queen Astrid often did charitable works as part of a Relief Committee.[17][better source needed]

Hobbies and personality[edit]

Queen Astrid had a warm, friendly, social and charming personality.[citation needed] According to her friend Countess Anna Sparre, Astrid was a shy and insecure woman—a disposition she believes may have been influenced by Astrid's mother favoring her elder sister Märtha.[14] Apparently a timid and fragile woman, Astrid could be fierce and stern when she had to defend a wronged loved one.[18]

She collected Swedish folk art and enjoyed sports such as swimming, skiing, climbing, horseback riding and golf.[citation needed]


Funeral of Astrid

Astrid died on 29 August 1935 in a car accident at Küssnacht am Rigi.[19]

In August 1935, the King and Queen went incognito to their holiday home, Villa Haslihorn in Horw, on the shores of Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. Joséphine-Charlotte and Baudouin travelled with their parents, while the one-year-old Prince Albert remained in Brussels.

On 29 August 1935, the King and Queen went for a last hike in the mountains before returning home. Their chauffeur was sitting in the back of the Packard One-Twenty convertible; the King was driving and the Queen looking at a map. At approximately 9:30 am the Queen pointed out something to her husband, who looked away from the road. The car left the road, travelled down a steep slope, and collided with a pear tree. Queen Astrid had opened her door and was thrown out upon impact, striking the trunk of the tree while the car hit a second tree.

Queen Astrid is interred in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, Brussels, beside her husband, King Leopold III, and his second wife, Lilian, Princess of Réthy.



Alexei Schwarzenbach [fr], a Swiss historian, describes how Queen Astrid entered folklore in Belgium and Switzerland.[20] Months after her death, newlyweds were bringing flowers to the place where the Queen died.[20] The chapel visitors would also bring wreaths and candles.[20] The visits peaked on feasts of All Saints and All Souls.[20] The Queen was described as an icon of beauty, kindness, romance, marriage and a model Catholic.[20] The Mayor of Küssnacht told the Belgian Ambassador to Switzerland: "It is on pilgrimage that these couples arrive here from all over the canton. These young newlyweds, in bridal dress, whom you saw visiting the place where Queen Astrid passed away, are imploring her protection. Your young Queen has become part of Swiss legend; she is, for our people, who have beatified her in their hearts, the symbol of maternal love and conjugal fidelity."[20]


Astrid Chapel and The King's Cross.

In 1935, the Belgian postal authorities issued a postage stamp showing her portrait outlined in black. This is known as the Astrid Mourning issue. Later that same year, it released a series of anti-tuberculosis fund stamps with the same design.[21] Place de la Reine-Astrid [fr] in 8th arrondissement of Paris was named in her memory.[22]

A commemorative chapel named Astrid Chapel[23][24] was built in Switzerland at the site of the crash. The Swiss government gave the land to Belgium a year after Astrid's death and the chapel was built in the style of a Walloon country church.[25] The chapel has become a destination for Swedish and Belgian tourists.[26] The King's Cross, built where the Queen died in her husband's arms, is made from Swedish granite.[27][28] A museum nearby holds images and memorabilia of the event, including a shard from the windshield and the trunk of the pear tree. The tree itself was felled by a storm in 1992. The car was sunk at a deep part of the Vierwaldstättersee at the request of the king.[26]

A memorial was built by the architect Paul Bonduelle in Laeken, Belgium, and inaugurated on 21 July 1938. The building, which is in the late neo-classical style, faces the Church of Our Lady of Laeken and backs onto the Palace of Laeken. The same year, on the initiative of the local Veterans' Front, a bronze bust of the Queen was erected in Wisterzée Park in Court-Saint-Étienne, Belgium, by sculptor Victor Rousseau.[citation needed]

Astrid Avenue in Bogor Botanical Garden in Indonesia was named after her while she was honeymooning there with her spouse in 1928. The avenue is decorated with spectacular displays of canna lilies of various colors.[29][9] The Swedish layer cake Princess cake was named after Astrid and her two sisters when they were children.[30][31][unreliable source?]


Four of her descendants were named Astrid to honour her: her granddaughters Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg, Princess Astrid of Belgium, her great-granddaughter Princess Marie-Astrid of Liechtenstein and her great-great-granddaughter Archduchess Anna Astrid of Austria-Este. Her niece Princess Astrid of Norway (later Mrs. Ferner) was also named in her honour.[32] Her husband King Leopold III's first daughter with his second wife Lilian Baels, Princess Marie-Christine Daphné Astrid Élisabeth Léopoldine of Belgium (b. 1951), was named after her.



Alliance Coat of Arms of King Leopold III
and Queen Astrid of Belgium

Royal Monogram of Queen Astrid
of Belgium




  1. ^ Burke's Royal Families of the World ISBN 0 85011 023 8 p. 514 (spelling of her full name as baptized)
  2. ^ a b c d "Princess Astrid". Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Ingeborg of Denmark (1878–1958) |". Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  4. ^ "Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935) |". Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  5. ^ Bloks, Moniek (20 June 2018). "Astrid of Sweden - Queen of Hearts". History of Royal Women. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  6. ^ Abi, Jo (7 August 2020). "The short and tragic life of Queen Astrid of Belgium". Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Mathilde, queen of Belgium | Facts, Biography, & Children | Britannica". Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  8. ^ a b Bloks, Moniek (20 June 2018). "Astrid of Sweden - Queen of Hearts". History of Royal Women. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  9. ^ a b Priherdityo, Endro (16 March 2016). "Kisah Cinta Putri Belgia Masih Tersimpan di Kebun Raya Bogor" [The Memory of Belgian Princess's Love Story Is Still Saved in the Bogor Botanical Garden]. CNN Indonesia (in Indonesian). Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Janti, Nur (17 June 2020). "Kunjungan Putra Mahkota Belgia Leopold dan Putri Astrid ke Hindia Belanda" [Visit of the Belgian Crown Prince Leopold and Princess Astrid to the Dutch East Indies]. Historia (in Indonesian). Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  11. ^ More Joy Than Pain, 1991, by Lars Rooth pp. 84–85
  12. ^ Quoted by Anna Sparre in Astrid mon amie, 2005, p. 128
  13. ^ Quoted by Charles d'Ydewalle in Albert and the Belgians: Portrait of a King, 2005, p. 259
  14. ^ a b c Sparre, Anna. Astrid mon amie. 2005.
  15. ^ Sparre, Anna. Astrid mon amie. 2005. ""But I promised I would look after my god-daughter, Christina, if something happened to you," she answered, trying to smile."
  16. ^ a b c d e Koninckx, Christian; Libert-Vandenhove, Louise-Marie. Astrid: 1905-1935 (2005). pp. 103-115.
  17. ^ "Koningin Astrid van België (1935)" (in Dutch). 18 April 2019. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ Sparre, Anna. Astrid mon amie. 2005. p. 114
  19. ^ "How Queen Astrid was killed". Aberdeen Press and Journal. No. 25, 167. 30 August 1935. p. 7 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Réactions à la mort de la reine Astrid, 1905-1935, document of historian Alexei Schwarzenbach [fr].
  21. ^ Stanley Gibbons Simplified catalogue. Stamps of the World, 1985 Edition
  22. ^ "LA PLACE DE LA REINE ASTRID". (in French). Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  23. ^ "ASTRID KAPELLE KÜSSNACHT AM RIGI". Archived from the original on 22 November 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Astrid Kapelle, Küssnacht am Rigi".
  25. ^ "Bericht über den Besuch des Belgischen Königs Albert II. in Küssnacht". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  26. ^ a b Der belgische König kommt nach Küssnacht Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  27. ^ Schwarzenbach, Alexei (1998). Rêves Royaux. Réactions à la mort de la reine Astrid, 1905-1935 . p. 22.
  28. ^ "Mort de la reine Astrid: le roi des Belges sur les lieux du drame" [Death of Queen Astrid: the King of the Belgians at the scene of the tragedy]. (in French). 29 August 2015.
  29. ^ "Taman Astrid - Kebun Raya Bogor". Lovely Bogor (in Indonesian).
  30. ^ "Traditionsenlig tårtfrossa - Prinsessyra bäddar för prinsesstårtans vecka" (in Swedish). Cisionwire. 17 September 2009. Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  31. ^ Vera (24 February 2009). "Swedish Princess Cake". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  32. ^ "Princess Astrid celebrates her 80th birthday". Norwegian Royal House. 11 February 2012. Archived from the original on 23 November 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2019.


  • Catherine Barjansky. "Portraits with Backgrounds."
  • Art Beeche. "The Snow Princess."
  • Robert Capelle. "Dix-huit ans auprès du Roi Léopold."
  • Charles d'Ydewalle. "Albert and the Belgians: Portrait of a King."
  • Evelyn Graham. "Albert King of the Belgians."
  • Lerche, Anna; Mandal, Marcus (2003). A royal family : the story of Christian IX and his European descendants. Copenhagen: Aschehoug. ISBN 9788715109577.
  • Luciano Regolo. "La Regina Incompresa."
  • Lars Rooth. "More Joy Than Pain."
  • Sparre, Anna (2005). Astrid, mon amie (in French). Brussels: Luc Pire. ISBN 9782874155161.

External links[edit]

Astrid of Sweden
Born: 17 November 1905 Died: 29 August 1935
Belgian royalty
Preceded by Queen consort of the Belgians
Title next held by
Fabiola de Mora y Aragón