Thursday, June 6, 2013

Royal Profile: King Albert II of the Belgians

King Albert II was born 6 June 1934, the second son of King Leopold III & Queen Astrid {Source}. He was 15 months old when his mother died in a car accident in Switzerland{Source}.

When he was six years old, Belgium was being invaded, so he and his siblings were evacuated to France and later to Spain {Source}. The royal siblings returned to their home country at the end of the summer for a few years,  before being evacuated to Germany and later Austria until May 1945 {Source}. The Belgian Royal Family left Austria in October 1945 for Switzerland, where the young Prince continued his education until 1950 {Source}. He returned with his father and brother to Belgium in July 1950 {Source}.

On 2 July 1959, Prince Albert married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria{Source}. Together, they would have three children, two sons and a daughter {Source}, as well as several grandchildren:
  • Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (1960) {Source}.
    • Princess Elisabeth (2001)
    • Prince Gaberiel (2003)
    • Prince Emmanuel (2005)
    • Princess Eléonore (2008)
  • Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este (1962)
  • Prince Laurent (1963)
    • Princess Louise (2004)
    • Prince Nicolas (2005)
    • Prince Aymeric (2005)
In 1962, he was asked to become the Honorary President of the  Board of Directors of the Belgian Foreign Trade Office, a position which he held until 1992 {Source}. In 1984, a fund named for him was set up to assist in training foreign trade specialists {Source}. From 1954-1992, he was President of the  Caisse Générale d'Epargne et de Retraite {Source}.

Moreover, Prince Albert also assumed the Presidency of the Board of the from 1954 to 1992. He was President of the Belgian Red Cross from 1958 to 1993.

Apart from these various functions, Prince Albert carried out actions in the field of town planning, housing, nature conservation, listed monuments and sites, and in general, management of the environment. In this context, he has presided or attended many international conferences. In 1969, he was invited by the Council of Europe to assume the Presidency of the European Ministerial Conference on the protection of the cultural and architectural heritage.

After the death of his brother, King Baudouin, Prince Albert was sworn in before the combined chambers of parliament on 9 August 1993 as the sixth King of the Belgians.

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