The Belgium Royal family is one of the many monarchs in Europe. This family of royals prides itself on connectivity to its people, culture, and family. In modern times, the royal family has helped unify the country and guide national politics.
History of Belgium's Royal Family
Belgium established itself as an independent country in 1830, with King Leopold I becoming the first-ever King of the Belgians. Unlike other countries that have leaders who refer to themselves as King of (Name of the country,) the King and Queen in this country call themselves, The King/Queen of the Belgians. This highlights that the ruler has a distinct relationship with the people and not only the territory. Since the first ruler, there have been seven monarchies, and King Philippe presently presides over the Kingdom. The current members of the Belgian royal family are young and progressive, following in the footsteps of other monarchies by shedding long-standing, archaic beliefs that only males could rule in their own right.
Head of the Belgian Royal Family: King Phillipe
The current King of the Belgians is King Philippe. He became King when his father, Prince Albert II abdicated his throne. Phillipe grew up attending primary school, then the Royal Military Academy, and later Trinity College, Oxford University, and at Stanford University, graduating with a degree in political science. In 1999, Philippe wed Miss Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz and two years later, the couple welcomed their first child together. They have since added to the royal family and now have four children in total.
Phillipe is particularly interested in charity work concerning the youth of Belgium. He has regularly visited schools and universities and has been involved with social issues like unemployment and poverty. The King of the Belgians has a net worth of approximately $20 million.
Miss Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz was born in Belgium and met her future husband, King Phillipe, while playing tennis. Mathilde is best known for her elegant style as well as her charity work. She has gone through several title changes over the years. When she became engaged, she was entitled princess, then became The Duchess of Brabant when she wed Phillipe. In July 2013, her husband became King, and she was then referred to as The Queen of the Belgians.
The Queen is a well-learned lady and is fluent in a number of languages, including French, Dutch, English, and Italian. Prior to marrying into the royal family, she worked as a speech therapist in her own independent practice. Mathilde is a fan of a wide array of interests. She enjoys music, literature, and sports. She has been known to display an adventurous spirit and serves as a participant of the World Economic Forum in Davos and is the honorary president of UNICEF Belgium.
Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde have four children, and the oldest is Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant. When her father passes or abdicates, Elizabeth will likely rule in her own right. The future Queen is highly educated. She has received her International Baccalaureate from UWC Atlantic College in Wales and is studying social and military sciences at the Royal Military School. She has attended the Yale Young Global Scholars Program at Yale University and is fluent in Dutch, French, German, and English.
Princess Elizabeth is actively involved in royal duties and has accompanied her mother, the Queen, on humanitarian missions and engages in many volunteering organizations. In her free time the young woman who is second in command enjoys skiing, tennis, sailing, and generally being in nature.
Prince Gabriel was born in 2003 and is the second child of the reigning King and Queen. He has been attending the International School of Brussels since 2019 and speaks several languages fluently. The young prince is a sporty fellow who is heavily involved in activities such as hockey, taekwondo, football, cycling, tennis, skiing, and sailing. He also plays the piano and actively engages in volunteer opportunities.
Third in line is Prince Emmanuel. Like his older brother, Emanuel studies at the International School of Brussels. The Prince is fluent in French, Dutch, and English and resides at the castle of Laeken with his parents and siblings. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, skiing, tennis, sailing, and judo and plays the saxophone. He is involved in humanitarian volunteer missions centered around aiding the underprivileged and the elderly.
Young Princess Eléonore studies at Heilig-Hartcollege in Tervuren, where she is being educated primarily in Dutch. Besides Dutch, she is also working on her fluency in French and English. The youngest daughter of the King and Queen practices the violin and participates in swimming, skiing, sailing, tennis, and aikido.
King Albert II and Queen Paola
Belgium is peculiar in that it currently has two Kings. Although Prince Albert abdicated his throne to his son, he is still referred to as King, as is his son. Albert II, the former ruler of Belgium, is the son of King Leopold III and of Queen Astrid, who was born a Princess of Sweden. He is also the grandchild of Albert I and Queen Elisabeth. Albert II became the sixth King following the death of his brother, King Baudouin. He has been involved in his fair share of scandal, most notoriously having to accept his child born out of wedlock.
Queen Paola is of Italian and Belgian ancestry. She met her future husband, King Albert the II at the coronation of Pope John XXIII. The couple went on to wed and have three children. The Queen devotes her time to interests close to her. She has been heavily involved in the arts community and the preservation of Belgium's heritage. She has long supported education, instituting the Queen Paola Foundation, which aims to support students and teachers in disadvantaged areas.
Children of Albert II and Paola
King Philippe is the oldest child of Albert and Paola, but the royal elders also have two other children, a son, and a daughter.
Princess Astrid is the second-born child of King Albert and Queen Paola. Astrid studied art history at Leiden in the Netherlands and then went on to study in Geneva and later at the Institute of European Studies and in Michigan in the United States. She wed Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and together, the couple has five children. Over the years, the Princess has been involved in a number of charitable efforts, including assisting single mothers and aiding the disadvantaged. She has served as president of the charity Action Damien/Damiaanactie as well as the Queen Elisabeth Medical Foundation and King Baudouin Foundation's Scientific and Medical Funds.
Prince Laurent is the youngest child of King Albert II and Queen Paula. He was educated in the Royal Military Academy and later joined the Navy, as his father had done years prior, where he specialized in helicopter tactics and naval diving. He wed Miss Claire Coombs in 2003, and the royal couple has three children together.
Prince Laurent is President of the Prince Laurent Foundation, which dedicates time and funds to the welfare of animals, and is Chairman of the European Research Group for Alternatives in Toxicity Testing.
A Royal Family Surrounded By Scandal
Scandal and royal families often go together like peanut butter and jelly. Every famous royal family has at least one skeleton in its closet, and the Royal Family of Belgium has its fair share of secrets. One of the more notorious scandals to rock the esteemed family is that of former King Albert's secret love child. Decades ago, rumors swirled furiously that the then-king took up with an aristocratic wife of a wealthy industrialist and from that relationship, an out-of-wedlock child was born. That child, Delphine Boel, has fought for decades to be recognized as the former King's child. Until recently, the former King and the Crown refused to address or accept issues of paternity.
Tides have turned and in 2020 a Belgian court ruled in Princess Delphine's favor, recognizing her as King Albert II's biological daughter. The former King and Queen have changed their tune as well, receiving Princess Delphine in their home, a sign of acknowledgment at last.