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| Duchess of Brabant
|Spouse||Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant|
| Princess Elisabeth|
|Mathilde Marie Christine Ghislaine|
|House||House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Father||Count Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz|
|Mother||Countess Anna Maria Komorowska|
Early life and familyEdit
She was born Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz in Uccle on 20 January 1973. Though her grandfather and her uncle were barons, she and her father were members of the untitled nobility. Princess Mathilde is currently the only crown princess consort of a reigning European house bearing noble ancestry along with Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein (because Camilla Parker Bowles only belongs to the gentry). She is a cousin of the current President of the Republic of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski.
Mathilde's father was Count (formerly Jonkheer) Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz (Uccle, 28 April 1936 – Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, 25 September 2008), son of Baron Charles d'Udekem d'Acoz (Ghent, 8 March 1885-Proven, 7 December 1968), who was of Walloon noble ancestry; her mother was Countess Anna Maria Komorowska (born 24 September 1946 in Białogard, Poland), daughter of Count Leon Michael Komorowski (Siedliska, 14 August 1907-1992) and Polish Princess Zofia María Sapieha of Krasiczyn, Clan Lis (Bobrek), 10 October 1919-Herstal, 14 August 1997). Upon her ma
rriage to Prince Philippe of Belgium, the Duke of Brabant in 1999, King Albert II of the Belgians elevated the family d'Udekem d'Acoz from the baronial to the comital rank, hereditary in the male lineage. Upon the accession of her husband, Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant to the throne of Belgium she would be the first Belgian queen consort of native Belgian nationality.
Mathilde is the oldest of five children. She has three younger sisters and one younger brother:
- Jonkvrouw Marie-Alix d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 16 September 1974 - April, 1997).
- Margravine Elisabeth von Pallavicini, née Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 17 January 1977) who is married to Margrave Alfonso von Pallavicini with whom she has 2 children; Margravine Olympia and Margrave Adalberto.
- Baroness Hélene Janssen, née Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 22 September 1979) who is married to Baron Nicolas Janssen with whom she has a daughter; Baronne Cordelia Janssen.
- Count Charles-Henri d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 13 May 1985).
On 29 March 2008, Henri d'Udekem d'Acoz, Princess Mathilde's uncle, told a Belgian newspaper that his brother, Patrick had been admitted to the Erasmus Hospital in Anderlecht, and was dying. The Count was in an irreversible coma and in critical condition. Henri stated that his brother had been ill since January, and his illness had gradually put him into the coma. Henri noted that Mathilde had visited her father in the hospital, as had other members of the Royal Family. On 25 September 2008, it was announced that the Count had died, aged 72, in Ottignies.
Princess Mathilde attended secondary school at the Institut de la Vierge Fidèle in Brussels. She then studied speech therapy at the Institut Libre Marie Haps in Brussels from 1991 to 1994 and earned a diploma with "grande distinction" (equivalent to magna cum laude).
Mathilde then worked as a speech therapist in her own practice in Brussels from 1995 to 1999. She also studied psychology at the Université catholique de Louvain and earned a diploma in psychology with "distinction" in 2002.
She speaks French, Dutch, English and Italian. Her mother, who spent most of her life outside of Poland, did not teach her Polish, thinking that it would not be necessary. Therefore, Mathilde knows only a few words in Polish.
Marriage and childrenEdit
The announcement of Mathilde's engagement to the Belgian heir-apparent, Prince Philippe, who had never been seriously linked with any woman, came as a surprise to the country. Mathilde married Prince Philippe on 4 December 1999 in Brussels, civilly at the Brussels Town Hall and religiously at the Cathedral of Saint Michel and Saint Gudula. Mathilde's bridal gown was designed by Edouard Vermeulen. She was made Princess of Belgium on 8 November 1999 (published on 13 November 1999 and effective from 4 December 1999).
The couple has four children:
- Princess Elisabeth Thérèse Marie Hélène born 25 October 2001
- Prince Gabriel Baudouin Charles Marie born 20 August 2003
- Prince Emmanuel Léopold Guillaume François Marie born 4 October 2005
- Princess Eléonore Fabiola Victoria Anne Marie born 16 April 2008
Princess Elisabeth, the couple's eldest child, is the second-in-line to the throne behind her father and ahead of her brothers and sister, who are third-, fourth-, and fifth-in-line to succeed, owing to a change in Belgian succession laws in 1991.
As Princess of Belgium, Mathilde carries out a number of official roles, including representing Belgium on state visits, receiving state visits from abroad, and as patron of many charities. She takes part in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos; since 2007, the Princess has been a mem
ber of the Young Global Leaders group.
With Prince Philippe, she has led economic missions to the USA in 2011 and to Vietnam in 2012.
Since 2009, Princess Mathilde has been the Honorary President of Unicef Belgium. She serves as the World Health Organisation’s Special Representative for Immunization.
She set up the Princess Mathilde fund in 2001, which promotes the care of vulnerable people and awards an annual prize for good works in a particular sector. The sector changes each year: examples include early years education, women's health, and protecting young people from violence. She also presides at the ceremony awarding the King Baudouin International Development Prize.
Titles, styles and honoursEdit
- Jonkvrouw Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz (1973–1999)
- Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Duchess of Brabant, Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz (1999–present)
Before the wedding, by means of a Royal Order of 8 November 1999, Mathilde was made a princess of Belgium in her own right. This Royal Order entered into force on
the date of the wedding. The wife of a Belgian prince used to receive this title automatically, but a special creation is now required. In addition, her father and two uncles were elevated to the rank of count.
Upon marriage itself, Mathilde became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Brabant.
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
- Finland (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (2004) - (Photo)
- Holy See : Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (June 2010) - (News : 1, 2)
- Luxembourg (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau (2007) - (Photo)
- Netherlands (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (2006) - (Photo 1, Photo 2)
- Norway (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Olav (2003) - (Photo)
- Poland (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2004) - (Photo)
- Portugal (Orders) : Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (08/03/2006) - (Orders website)
- Spain (Orders) : Order of Isabella the Catholic (2000) - (Photo)
- Sweden (Orders) : Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star (2001) - (Photo)