NETTY ROYAL

SOVEREIGN

Copyright: Chancellery of the Prime
Minister - Marie-Jo Lafontaine/Marina Cox

HEIR TO THE THRONE

Copyright: Chancellery of the Prime
Minister - Algemene Directie Externe
Communicatie

COAT OF ARMS

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POSTAL ADDRESS

Royal Palace
Brederodestraat 16
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Belgium

uploaded: 1 January 2013 / last modified: 1 January 2014

The country

The state is known as Koninkrijk België, Royaume de Belgique or Königreich Belgien in its national languages. This means the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is being reigned by the Saxe- Coburg and Gotha dynasty.

Sovereign

The current sovereign is Philippe Léopold Louis Marie King of the Belgians. He was born at the Belvédère Castle in Laken, Belgium, on 15 April 1960.

He is the son of Albert II King of the Belgians (1934- ) and his wife Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria (1937- ).

Philippe succeeded his father, who abdicated on 21 July 2013.

The Inauguration of King Philippe took place at the Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on 21 July 2013.

The King's motto is Eendracht maakt macht or L'union fait la force, which means Union is strenght.

The King is a Roman Catholic.

Marriage and descendants

King Philippe is married to Jonkvrouwe Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz (born 1973) since 1999.

The couple has two daughters, Princess Elisabeth (born 2001) and Princess Eléonore (born 2008), and two sons, Prince Gabriel (born 2003) and Prince Emmanuel (born 2005).

Heir to the throne

Princess Elisabeth Thérèse Marie Hélène of Belgium was born at the Erasmus Hospital in Anderlecht, Belgium, on 25 October 2001. As heir to the throne she received the title of Duchess of Brabant on 21 July 2013.

Succession

Belgium is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. Until 1991 the Constitution said: the constitutional powers of the King are hereditary through the direct, natural and legitimate descent from HM Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, from male to male descendant, by order of primogeniture, and with the eternal exclusion of women and their descendance. However on March 8th, 1992, the Salian Law was replaced by the absolute rule about the right of the first born, with the result that now the princesses have the same rights of succession as their brothers. The King can't be head of state of another country at the same time, unless a 2/3 majority of both Houses agree with it. When there is no descendance anymore the King has the right to appoint his successor. The Houses have to agree with that choice with 2/3 majority. The Houses meet upon the death of a King without being convened at the latest on the tenth day after his death. They will exercise the King's constitutional powers until the oath is sworn by his successor to the throne or by the Regent. A King attains his majority upon his eighteenth birthday. He only accedes to the throne after having sworn the following oath before the united Houses: "I swear to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Belgian people, to preserve the country's national independence and its territorial integrity". If the successor is a minor, the two Houses meet together to appoint a Regent (one person only) and a Guardian. A Prince(ss) looses his/her right of succession when he/she marries without asking permission from the King. The King is able to restore this Prince(ss) his/her rights.

Titles

The sovereign is His Majesty, King of the Belgians. The other members of the royal family are styled His/Her Royal Highness and Prince/Princess of Belgium. The children of Princess Astrid are styled His/Her Imperial and Royal Highness and are Archdukes/Archduchesses of Austria-Este, Prince/Princess of Belgium. The Belgian government is responsible for granting the wife of a Prince the title of "Princess of Belgium". She is not allowed to use the title until then. Until World War I the family also bore the German titles Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony.

Royal Residences

King Albert II and Queen Paola live at Belvédère Castle, Laken. It is situated very near Laken Castle, which is the castle where King Philippe and Queen Mathilde live with their children. Since 1998 Queen Fabiola lives at Stuyvenberg Castle, Laeken. Also Princess Astrid and her family live there. Prince Laurent and Princess Claire live at the Villa Clementine at Tervuren. The Royal Palace at Brussels, as well as sometimes Laken Castle, is used for official events. Both the Royal Palace at Brussels and Laken Castle belong to the state, and are made available to the King. At present also Belvédère Castle, Stuyvenberg Castle, Villa Clémentine, Ciergnon Castle and Fenffe Castle are made available to the king. These residences belong to the Royal Trust, and via the Trust, to the state. King Albert II himself owns the residence "Le Romarin" at Châteauneuf de Grasse. Queen Fabiola owns the Villa Astrida at Motril.

The famous royal greenhouses at Laken are open 20 days a year in the Spring. Also the royal burial church of the royal family at Laken is accessible on special days, as well as on Sunday afternoon. The BELvue Museum, which is situated next to the royal palace and tells about the history of Belgium and its royal family.

History

In 843 the area of the present Belgium was divided between France and Lorraine by the grandsons of King Charles the Great. Through the Middle Ages the Counts of Flanders were liege to the French Kings. Brabant, Hainault, Limburg and Luxemburg stayed a part of the German State. At the end of the 14th century the Dukes of Burgundy tried to unite the "Low Countries" to get a huge state in the west of Europe. However, after the death of Duke Charles the Bold the House of Habsburg inherited the land. The war (1568-1648) between the Spanish King Philip II and the northern part of the Low Countries led to the independency of this part of the Low Countries as the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The south came to the Austrian Habsburgs after 1700. On January 11th, 1790, the States General in Brussels declared the United Belgian States independent. Afterwards it became a part of the French Republic and later the French Empire. In 1814 Belgium was reunited with the northern part of the Low Countries. Together they became the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Belgians were not happy with this union -one of the biggest contrast was that the south was catholic and the north predominantly protestant- and in August 1830 a revolution began. Although the Dutch King Willem I sent Crown Prince Willem, and later his younger son Prince Frederik, to the south, leading a big army, in September that army was forced to leave Brussels. On October 4th, 1830, the provisional government declared Belgium independent, and in November they choose to reject the dynasty of the Nassau family. After other states in the world recognized the country as an independent state, the government looked out for a monarch. The second son of King Louis-Philippe of France, the Duke of Némours, was asked, but refused. Finally on June 4th 1831 Leopold Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was chosen. He had been married to the British Princess Charlotte, who had died in childbed in 1817. The new King was welcomed in Brussels on July 21st, 1831, and on the same day he took the oath as King Leopold I. Soon afterwards the Dutch tried to win back Belgium for the last time. With the help of France Belgium stayed independent, but lost Maastricht and a part of Luxemburg and Limburg. Until 1839 the Dutch refused to acknowledge the independency of the Belgian State. A year after he became King Leopold I married Louise-Marie, a daughter of King Louis-Philippe of France, to secure the survival of his dynasty. She gave birth to three sons: the oldest died soon after his birth, the second became King Leopold II, and the third Philippe Count of Flanders later secured the survival of the dynasty.

In 1865 King Leopold I died and was followed by his son Leopold II, who took the oath on December 17th, 1865. His sister Charlotte, married to Archduke Maximilian of Austria King of Mexico, became a widow when her husband was killed in Queretaro in 1867, and soon afterwards she showed signs of insanity. Leopold II reigned in a democratic country, which restricted his power. Congo, a state in Africa, became a part of Belgium officially in 1885, although it was conquered some years before. King Leopold II died in 1909 after having married for the second time with his mistress the Baroness of Vaughan. His first wife Marie- Henriette Archduchess of Austria had already died in 1902. From the first marriage four daughters and a son were born. The son, Leopold, died, only 10-years old, in 1869. Heir to the throne now was Leopold II's brother Philippe, who died in 1905. Philippe's oldest son Baudouin had died in 1891, and thus the new heir to the throne was the younger son, who became King Albert I, who took the oath on December 23rd, 1909. In 1900 he had married Elisabeth Duchess of Bavaria and they had three children: Leopold, Charles and Marie-José. The new King was very popular and in World War I (1914-1918) he became even more popular because of his resistance against the German troups. The King stayed in De Panne, in the only independent part of Belgium on the west coast of the country, and leaded his army from there. The Queen helped the wounded as much as she could. When the King fell down in the Ardennes during a mountaineering-trip in 1934 and died, the whole country mourned.

The new King Leopold III married Princess Astrid of Sweden in 1926 and they got three children in the following years: Joséphine-Charlotte (1927), Baudouin (1930) and Albert (1934). In 1935 Belgium mourned again when the new Queen Astrid died in a car-crash during the holidays in Switzerland. In 1940 Belgium was conquered by the German troups. Leopold III decided to stay in Belgium, like his father had done in World War I, although the government had fled the country. During the war the King remarried with Lilian Baels. In 1944 the royal family was taken to Germany and afterwards to Austria and held prisoner. When Belgium was freed later that year Leopold III's brother Charles became the regent, which he stayed until 1950. Leopold III had returned to Belgium in 1945, but the Belgian people didn't wish to get him back as a King because of his behaviour during the war. In 1950 finally a referendum was held, and Leopold III returned to Belgium. On August 1st, 1950, he was forced to give the throne to his oldest son Baudouin I, who reigned as a regent until he took the oath on July 16, 1951. Leopold III didn't die until 1983. Baudouin I declared Congo an independent republic in 1960. Later that year he married Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, but they never had children. Philippe, the oldest son of his younger brother Albert and his wife Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria (they met at the coronation of Pope John XXIII in Rome), was seen as the next king. However when King Baudouin I suddenly died in 1993, it was Albert himself who became King Albert II. Albert in 2013 abdicated voluntarily in favour of his eldest son Philippe.

The Kings of Belgium

Leopold I (1790-1865) 1831-1865
Leopold II (1835-1909) 1865-1909
Albert I (1875-1934) 1909-1934
Leopold III (1901-1983) 1934-abd. 1951
Charles (1903-1983) (regent) 1944-1950
Baudouin (1930-1993) 1951-1993
Albert II (1934-) 1993-abd. 2013
Philippe (1960-) 2013-

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