Sunday, February 27, 2011

Belgian of the week: King Albert II

Albert II, King of the Belgians. (Source)
Sorry about the late post. I had a conga line to lead.

Albert II (b. 1934) is the current King of the Belgians. He is the second son of King Leopold III (1901–1983). He ascended to the throne in 1993, upon the death of his older brother, Baudouin (Dutch: Boudewijn) I. He is the first cousin of King Harald V of Norway, Princess Astrid of Norway, and Princess Ragnhild of Norway. Like many royals he has many names: his full name is Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie.

Prince Albert was only one year old when his mother, the 30-year-old Princess Astrid of Sweden, died tragically. She and her husband, Leopold III of Belgium, were driving on a road in Switzerland when Leopold lost control of the car and drove it into a ravine. Both Princess Astrid and her unborn child were killed in the crash.

In June 1944, King Leopold and his family were deported to eastern Germany by the German occupants. Later they were moved to Austria, where they were liberated by the American Army in May 1945. Because of the controversy regarding Leopold's conduct during the war, the royal family did not immediately return to their country but instead moved to Switzerland. They finally returned to Belgium in 1950, when Albert was 16 years old.

Queen Paola of the Belgians.
(Source)
In 1959, he married Princess Donna Paola Margherita Maria Antonia Consiglia Ruffo di Calabria (b. 1937), now Queen Paola of the Belgians. They have three children:
  • Philippe (Dutch: Filip) Léopold Louis Marie, Duke of Brabant (b. 1960). He is the heir to the throne of Belgium.
  • Astrid Joséphine Charlotte Fabrizia Elisabeth Paola Marie (b. 1962).
  • Laurent Benoît Baudouin Marie (b. 1963).
Above: Filip, Astrid and Laurent, the children of King Albert.

Albert is known as a more jovial person than his more austere brother, the late King Baudouin. An example is his love for motorcycles, which has earned him a few bone fractures and bruises over the years.

The greatest controversy surrounding King Albert is due to his alleged affair with a Belgian baroness whose daughter, Delphine Boël (b. 1968), is said to be the King's illegitimate daughter. Albert, though not yet king, was already married at the time of Delphine Boël's birth. The alleged affair, which is said to have lasted between 1966 and 1982, supposedly put a great strain on the marriage between Albert and Paola. Although these claims have never been officially confirmed, the press often takes the fact for granted.

Today the king's most important task is appointing new negotiators in the cabinet negotiations following the 2010 Belgian general elections. That's not going so well, but at least the Belgians are taking it with a smile.

3 comments:

  1. You're right

    Probably he is the LAST Belgian ever

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  2. Good post :) I'd almost forgotten about his thing with motorcycles ^^ My dad could be right, perhaps he will be the last Belgian ever...

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  3. That's got me thinking.

    *Mentally prepares for a Flemish rather than Belgian citizenship some time in the future* ;)

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