Belgium's King Albert in Bulgaria for New Year
Wed Dec 31, 8:37 AM ET
SOFIA (AFP) - Belgian King Albert II and his wife Queen Paula will see in the New Year in Bulgaria's Borovetz ski resort, in the company of Bulgaria's former king and current prime minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
The prime minister and his wife will host the Belgian royals in a former royal residence in the southwestern mountain resort, officials here said.
Saxe-Coburg, a former monarch of Bulgaria, is a relative of Belgium's King Albert and England's Queen Elizabeth. He returned to his country after the fall of communism, ending 55 years in exile, and won legislative elections there in 2001.
The largest ski resort in Bulgaria had some royal visitors over the New Year, as the king and queen of Belgium spent a three-day private visit with Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
King Albert II and Queen Paola were guests of the premier – who is the country's former monarch and a relative of the couple – and his wife, Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela. The foursome spent the special occasion at a former royal residence in the Borovetz ski resort, which is located in the Rila mountains.
While staying at the winter sports hotspot, the royal pair also had time to take in some of the historical landmarks in the region, including the medieval Rila monastery. The monastery, located about 120 kilometres south of Sofia, is also the location where the prime minister's father, the late King Boris III, is buried.
The 10th-century building, which was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862 after being destroyed by fire, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned as a symbol of the 19th-century Bulgarian Renaissance.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Belgium's King Albert II and Queen Paola welcome NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for the annual new year's reception at the royal palace in Brussels, 20 January 2004.
Just a reminder to not post images directly to the forum but rather as links. Images, no matter how small, affect our bandwidth and I think we can all agree that we don't want to face another temporary shutdown because of bandwidth issues.
(Getty Images) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY16: World number one womens tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne (2nd from L) and number two Kim Clijsters pose with HM King Albert II (L) and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt after receiving the Grande-Croix de l?Ordre de la Couronne at the Royal Palace February 16, 2004 in Brussels, Belgium. (Mark Renders)
Location: East of the sun and west of the moon, United States
World number one women's tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne and number two Kim Clijsters pose with HM King Albert II and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt after receiving the Grande-Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne at the Royal Palace February 16, 2004 in Brussels, Belgium.
King Albert II and Queen Paola meet with Juan Pratt y Coll, Spanish Nato ambassador in Belgium (L) and Carlos Bastarecche Sagues, Spanish EU ambassador in Belgium ®, 12 March 2004 at the Royal Palace in Brussels, to discuss the situation in Spain, after the trains attacks in Madrid that killed at least 198 people, and injured more than 1400.