Saturday, June 6, 2015

Royal Profile: King Albert II of Belgium

King Albert II was born 6 June 1934 as 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}. His father remarried in September 1941. He had two full siblings, and three half siblings:
  1. Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927-2005, she would later become Grand Duchess of Luxembourg by marriage)
    1. Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (1955)
    2. Prince Jean of Luxembourg(1957)
    3. Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg, Princess of Liechtenstein (1957)
    4. Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg (1954, later known as Archduchess Marie-Astrid of Austria)
      • Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg (1963)
    5. King Baudin I of The Belgians (1930-1993)
    6. Prince Alexander of Belgium (1942-2009, half sibling)
    7. Princess Marie-Christine of Belgium (1951, half-sibling)
    8. Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium (1956, half-sibling)
      1. Miss Alexandra Leopoldine Moncada (1998)
      2. Master Leopoldo Daniel Moncada (2001)
    His godparents were:
    •  Felix of Bourbon-Parma 
    •  Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians (maternal grandmother)
    He himself is a godfather to his youngest half-sister, Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium.

    He holds honors from:
    1. Belgium
    2. Afganistan
    3. Austria-Hungary
    4. Bolivia
    5. Chile 
    6. Columbia 
    7. Cuba
    8. Czechoslovakia
    9. Ecuador
    10. Egypt
    11. Ethiopia
    12. France
    13. Italy
    14. Japan
    15. Latvia
    16. Luxembourg
    17. Monaco
    18. Morocco
    19. The Netherlands
    20. Norway
    21. Persia
    22. Poland
    23. Portugal
    24. Prussia
    25. Romania
    26. Russia
    27. Serbia
    28. Spain
    29. Sweden
    30. United Kingdom
    31. United States
    32. Venezuela
    33. Malta

    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}.

    He met his wife, Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria, at the Belgian Embassy in Rome after witnessing the coronation of Pope John XXIII, during their first meeting he fell in love with her instantly, and proposed {Source} He is the only Prince of Liege to date (he was given it by King Albert I, but Albert II decided in 2002 to not give out courtesy titles and only the Duke/Duchess of Brabant for the heir) {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{Source}:
    1. King Philippe (1960) 
      1. Queen Mathilde
        1. Princess Elisabeth, The Duchess of Brabant (2001)
        2. Prince Gabriel (2003)
        3. Prince Emmanuel (2005)
        4. Princess Eléonore (2008)
    2. Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este (1962)
      1. Prince Laurent, Archduke of Asutria-Este (1963)
        1. Prince Amedeo, Archduke of Austria-Este (1986)
        2. Princess Maria Laura,  Archduchessof Austria-Este (1988)
        3. Prince Joachim, Archduke of Austria-Este (1991)
        4. Princess Luisa Maria.  Archduchess of Austria-Este (1995)
        5. Princess Laetia Maria,  Archduchess of Austria-Este (2003)
    3. Prince Laurent
      1. Princess Claire
        1. Princess Louise (2004)
        2. Prince Nicolas (2005)
        3. 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.On 3 July 2013, King Albert II attended a midday session of the Belgian cabinet. He then announced that on 21 July, he would abdicate the throne for health reasons.

    He was the second Belgian King to abdicate, the first was his father.

    It has been rumored for many years that he fathered an illegitimate child, Delphine Boël, a situation which he denies. I discussed this situation last July when the controversy re-surfaced in the public.He allegedly had an affair with Delphine’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, wanted to divorce Paola and go to the UK to live with Sybille and Delphine but it was impossible since Baudouin had no heirs and Philippe was too young at the time to be King if something happened {Source}.

    The former King speaks French (fluent), Flemish (although not as well as he should), English and a little German. He 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.He was the Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony in 1969.

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