|Reign||9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013 (24 years, 12 days)|
|Heir apparent||Philippe, Duke of Brabant|
|Prime Ministers|| Jean-Luc Dehaene|
Herman Van Rompuy
Elio Di Rupo
|Spouse||Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria|
| Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant|
Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
|House|| House of Belgium|
|Father||Leopold III of Belgium|
|Mother||Astrid of Sweden|
|Born|| 6 June 1934 |
Stuyvenberg Castle, Belgium
HM The King
Albert II (born 6 June 1934) is the King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. 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.
Prince Albert was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, Brussels, to King Leopold III (1901–1983) and his first wife, Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). His godparents were Prince Felix of Luxembourg and his paternal grandmother, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.
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.
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.
He continued his studies until 1944, either at Laeken, or at the Chateau of Ciergnon in the Ardennes.
Engagement and marriageEdit
In 1958, Prince Albert of Liege went to the Vatican to witness the inauguration 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 charm and beauty of the blond princess from the south quickly captured the hearts of the Belgians", wrote the newspapers back then.
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 Royals 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 Princess 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:
- HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium, Duke of Brabant (born 15 April 1960).
- HI&RH Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (born 5 June 1962).
- HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium (born 19 October 1963)
As the younger brother of Baudouin of Belgium, 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 include 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 has 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.
Titles, styles, honours, and armsEdit
Titles and stylesEdit
- 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 - present: His Majesty The King of the Belgians
- Belgian honours
- Grand Master of the Order of Leopold
- Grand Master of the Order of the African Star (dormant order)
- Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Lion (dormant order)
- Grand Master of the Order of the Crown
- Grand Master of the Order of Leopold II
- Foreign honours
Recipient of numerous foreign decorations, Albert II is one of the few European leaders to be both a knight of the Golden Fleece (Austrian awarded in 1962 by Archduke Otto von Habsburg) and Knight of the Golden Fleece Gold Spanish (awarded in 1994 by King Juan Carlos).
- Austrian Empire: Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece
- Bulgaria: Grand Cross of the Order of Stara Planina (2003)
- Commonwealth: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
- Denmark: Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog
- Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant
- Estonia: Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (2008)
- Finland: Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland (2004)
- Germany: Grand Cross, Special Class, of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic
- Hungary: Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, Civilian Class
- Holy See: Knight of the Collar of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (1995)
- Italy: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
- Japan: Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum
- Kingdom of France: Knight of the Order of Saint Michael
- Kingdom of Italy: Knight of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
- Kingdom of Italy: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
- Latvia: Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars (2007)
- Lithuania: Golden Collar of the Order of Vytautas the Great
- Luxembourg: Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- Malta: Bailiff and Knight Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Monaco: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles (1957)
- Morocco: Special Class of the Order of the Mohammedi
- Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau
- Norway: Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. Olav
- Poland: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle
- Portugal: Grand Cordon of the Military Order of Aviz (1985)
- Portugal: Grand Collar of the Order of the Infante Dom Henrique (1999)
- Romania: Sash (Collar) of the Order of the Star of Romania (2009)
- Spain: Sash (Collar) of the Order of the Golden Fleece (1994)
- Spain: Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Charles III
- Sweden: Knight of the Order of the Seraphim