Belgian Abdication: Profile of Albert II

  July 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm by

Ahead of his abdication tomorrow, let’s take a look at the life of King Albert II of the Belgians.

From the TRF Avatar Gallery

Born on June 6th, 1934, Prince Albert was the youngest child of King Leopold III of the Belgians and Princess Astrid of Sweden. Upon his birth, which took place at the Stuyvenberg Castle, the same place his elder brother, Baudouin, was born, Albert was given the additional title, Prince of Liège. He also had an elder sister, Joséphine-Charlotte. In August 1935, when Albert was fourteen months old, his mother Astrid was killed in a Swiss car crash.

Prince Albert was deported to Germany by the Nazi forces in 1944, along with his father, siblings and stepmother Lilian. King Leopold had surrendered to the Nazis in 1940, which caused his popularity and standing with the Belgian people to plummet (his second marriage also did not help matters). The family did not return to Belgium until 1950, instead living in Switzerland, where Albert attended secondary school in Geneva.

From the TRF Avatar Gallery

A year after the family’s return, King Leopold chose to abdicate in 1951 in favour of his eldest son, Baudouin.

In 1958 while attending the installation of the new pope, Prince Albert met Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria. The pair hit it off, and a short time later, the Prince proposed marriage, and the Italian noblewoman accepted. They were married on July 2nd the following year in Brussels, after being refused a Vatican wedding (the Belgian government exerted pressure upon the pope to gain this ending).

From the TRF Avatar Gallery

Despite a rocky period in their marriage – the late 1960s to around about the 1980s – Albert and Paola have three children: Prince Philippe (born 1960), Princess Astrid (born 1962) and Prince Laurent (born 1963). The couple have twelve grandchildren.

During his Princehood and Kingship, Albert has been involved with a number of causes: he was the Honorary President of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Foreign Trade Office from 1962 to 1993, was the President of the Belgian Red Cross, has been involved with the management and conservation of the environment and has worked to protect cultural and architectural heritage sites.

Albert became the King of the Belgians on August 9th, 1993 when his brother passed away from heart failure. When he officially abdicates tomorrow, he will retain the title of King.

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