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Albert II
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King-Albert-II 1888079c.jpg
King of the Belgians
Reign 9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013 (&000000000000002300000023 years, &0000000000000322000000322 days)
Predecessor Baudouin
Heir apparent Philippe, Duke of Brabant
Prime Ministers Jean-Luc Dehaene
Guy Verhofstadt
Yves Leterme
Herman Van Rompuy
Yves Leterme
Elio Di Rupo
Spouse Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria
Issue
Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant
Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Prince Laurent
House House of Belgium
(Saxe-Coburg-Gotha)
Father Leopold III of Belgium
Mother Astrid of Sweden
Born 6 June 1934 (1934-06-06) (age 83)
Stuyvenberg Castle, Belgium
Signature Albert II of Belgium Signature.svg.png
Religion Roman Catholicism
Monarchy of Belgium
156

HM The King
HM The Queen


HM Queen Fabiola


v · d · e

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.

Early lifeEdit

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.

EducationEdit

He continued his studies until 1944, either at Laeken, or at the Chateau of Ciergnon in the Ardennes.

Personal lifeEdit

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.

See Wedding of Albert, Prince of Liège, and Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria

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).

ChildrenEdit

Together they have three children, two sons and a daughter:

Official roleEdit

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

HonoursEdit

Belgian honours
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).

Honorary degreesEdit

King Albert is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Catholic University of Leuven, the Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Ghent University, Free University of Brussels, the Catholic university of Mons and the Polytechnic Faculty of Mons.

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