King Albert I of The Belgians (1875-1934)

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Aug 13, 2004
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King Albert I (1875-1934):

This thread is about King Albert I of The Belgians (Brussels, April 8, 1875 – Marche-les-Dames, February 17, 1934)

Parents: Prince Phillipe of Belgium and Princess Maria of Hohenzollern

Wife: Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria

Children: King Leopold III of The Belgians, prince Charles of Belgium, Queen marie-Jose of Italy

Siblings: Prince Baudouin of Belgium, Princess Henriette of Orleans, Princess Josephine of Belgium, Princess Josephine of Hohenzollern


Note that all images posted in this thread by me are free of copyrights, unless stated differently. The TRF policy conserning copyrights has not changed.
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Albert I (April 8, 1875 – February 17, 1934) was the third King of the Belgians.Born Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad in Brussels, he was the younger son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and succeeded his uncle, Leopold II of Belgium, on the throne on December 17, 1909. His grandfather, Leopold I, had been the first King of the Belgians, and his aunt, the first princess of Belgium, was Empress Carlota of Mexico.
He was married on October 2, 1900 to Duchess Elisabeth Gabrielle Valérie Marie in Bavaria, a Wittelsbach princess whom he met at a family funeral. A daughter of Karl-Theodor, Duke in Bavaria, and his wife, the Infanta Maria Josepha of Portugal, she was born at Possenhofen, Bavaria, Germany on July 25, 1876 and died on November 23, 1965.

Read the entire wikipedia article here.

In the beginning of King Albert I´s reign thefirst world war started. During this was he was near his soldiers who were fighting in the trenches of IJzer, in West-Flanders, while the goverment was in excile in Le Harvre (France). In August 1914 the king had his headquaters in Castle de Dieudonné in Korbeek-Lo, was owned by baron de Dieudonné. He stayed there from August 5th to 19th. A few days later the castle was burned down completely by the Germans. In October 1914, when the army was retreating in disorder, French general Pau suggested that the Belgian troops would retreat from Belgium completely and would regroup in the area of Calais.King Albert I accepted this offer and on october 10th the Belgian goverment requested permission from France for the Belgian army to enter. That same day a refusal followed from general Joffre, he said that there couldn´t be an issue that the Belgian army would retret and settle in Calais. Instead he requested the army to go tot he area of Ypres-Poperinge, what happened. On October 11th the decision was made to create a battle along the river IJzer. In rough lines this area became the battle ground in Western Europe for the next four years. The King settled in coastal village De Panne, where he was close to his troops. Due to his role in the war he was affectionally called King-Knight or King-Soldier by his troops, the Belgian population and even by the allied press. During the war the King changed hios coat-of-arms, dropping the arms of Saxony completely and he also dropped the title and name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha completely.

On the left, the King with Britains King George V. The King became interested ina viation during the war, which we can see on the two other pictures.

On October 1st 1927 King Albert holds his famous speech of Seraing, in the companies of John Cockerill. This speech became a mobilising myth, even today Albert i is still quoted in any political discussion about science in Belgium. ´In Belgium there is a real crisis in scientific companies and initiatives of our industrials and financers, the knowledge of our scientists and the skills of our workers we can take away those blocks´. The Belgian bankers etc. understood the message and a year later the National Fund for Scientific Research was created, under the chairmanship of Emile Francqui. This fund caused a true revival of Belgian science and lots of foreign expeditions were started. The programme didn´t survive the second World War and was taken over by the state.

Albert made a few far foreign visits during his reign. In 1919 he travelled to the United States of America. He tooka n entire month (October) to travel the country, everywhere the King-Knight was received with enthousiasm. Albert I was also the first King who would travel to the Belgian Congo. His first visit was in 1909, when he was still the heir to the throne. His second visit was in 1928, this visit was mainly to show the Belgians at home that one could travel comfortably through the Congo.
Albert I died after he had an accident while he was climbing a mountain. He fell in Marche-Les-Dames, Ardennes on ebruary 17th 1934 and died. Because there wern´t any witnesses who saw the King fall wild speculations started about the true reason of his death. Albert was an experienced mounteneer and many thought it hard to believe this was really an accident. Some theories involved jealous husbands of supposed mistresses while another one thought the French secret service was responsible for Alberts death, as Albert wanted Belgium to tretreat into neutrality and hence stop the militairy agreement with the French. None of these theories could be proven though.

Albert was married to the excentric Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, a niece of Empress Sissi of Austria. The marriage was fairly happy generally considered a love match. Previously it was the ambitious Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna who wanted Albert to marry her daughter Grand Duchess Helen (future Pricness Nicholas of Greece), but Albert already had his eyes on Elisabeth. The couple got three children:

- King Leopold III of The Belgians
- Prince Charles of Belgium, Count of Flanders
- Queen Marie-Jose of Italy.

On the left an engagement picture of Albert and Elisabeth, on the right a picture of the family

A picture of the Belgian Royal Family at the Vatican in Rome. In the middle King Albert and Queen Elisabeth (with two rows of pearls. Next to Elisabeth is their son Pricne Charles and Crownprincess Astrid, nee Princess of Sweden (their daughter-in-law). Left from Albert we see Princess Marie-Jose (with the cross) and next to her her brother Crownprince Leopold, Duke of Brabant:

This timeline comes from the wesite of the roya+l family and is free of copÿrights:

On 8 April, birth at the Palais de la Régence in Place Royale, Brussels, of Albert, Leopold, Marie, fifth child of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders and brother of Leopold II, and of Princess Marie de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Prince Albert married Elisabeth, Duchess en Bavière. The couple would have three children: Leopold (1901-1983), the future Leopold III, Charles (1903-1983), the future Regent, and Marie-Jose (1906-2001).

Albert founded the "Ibis" institution, a home and school for the orphans of fishermen.

On 23 December, Albert succeeded King Leopold II.

On 30 August, enactment of the law introducing general military services (conscription of all the sons of a family).

On 2 August, King Albert took effective command of the Armed Forces, in accordance with Article 68 of the Constitution.

After the Armistice on 11 November, King Albert, Queen Elisabeth and the Princes made a triumphal entry into Brussels, on 22 November.
In his speech from the throne on 22 November, King Albert announced major reforms: Introduction of universal suffrage, effective equality of the two national languages, and the switch to Flemish at the University of Ghent; recognition of trade union freedoms and the extension of social legislation.

Creation, on the initiative of King Albert I, of the National Scientific Research Fund (FNRS) to encourage industrial development. .

On 17 February, the King died tragically following a fatal fall in the rocks of Marche-les-Dames. A large number of veterans of the Front accompanied their Commander to his final resting place.

Two pictures of the traditional ´Joyfull Entrees´ that the new King Albert I made in every province. This is an old tradition, dating back to the medieval times when the Dukes of Brabant did the same. The pictures show his entry in Brussels.

A picture of the headquaters of the King during the first world war:


A picture of the King with Britains King George V during the first world war:

A picture of the King (left) and a drawing of the King on the battlefield (right):

Is the reason of his death realy certain? I have read that there were rumours that he was pushed of the cliff by the french secret service, or by a husband of a mistress (don´t know if he ever had a mistress though).
A Mass of Remembrance for the Members of the RF who passed away will be held at the OLV Laeken this morning,in particular to Commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death of HM King Albert I at Marche-les-Dames.

In the afternoon HM King Albert I will attend the annual Remembrance ceremony at the monument in Marche-les-Dames organised
by the "Royal Veterans and Symphatizers of King Albert I".

The tomb of HM and Queen Elisabeth:

Courtesy Mardam.
LadyLeana wrote an article about it on the TRF Blog:

Seventy-five years ago, on 17 February 1934, King Albert I of Belgium fell off the Roche du Vieux Bon Dieu, at Marches-Les-Dames, while mountaineering. He did not survive his fall, and, as quickly as that, Belgium lost its third King.

King Albert I was the second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders and brother of King Leopold II, and Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Albert was not meant to become King – he was more the “spare heir.” After the death of his cousin, Prince Leopold, his older brother Baudouin was trained to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. The young Prince was very popular, so when he died unexpectedly, Prince Albert suddenly had very big footsteps to fill at the early age of 16.
Albert was a studious young man, and rather quiet by nature. He was very concerned with the well-being of his people. He is known to have travelled incognito to the poor, working-class neighbourhoods in Belgium, to see with his own eyes the conditions in which his people had to live. He also travelled through the Belgian Congo, and upon his return he formulated many recommendations to improve living conditions there. Later, he would be famous for his reform efforts, which include trying to implement universal suffrage and make the University of Ghent a Flemish university (where before, university lessons had always been in French).

Read the entire entry here.
I should like to add at LadyLeana's very interesting article about King Albert the first, that we have now an exhibition at the Royal Palace until February 28th as he started reigning 100 years ago (23/12/1909).
The important of the exhibition are his private notes about everything.
Also the letter he wrote to Wilhelm , Kaiser of Germany , in german and his wife Queen Elisabeth, born Duchess in Bavaria, corrected his mistakes.(1/8/1914)
The important is also what he did after the war , 1919-1934, Belgian had to start again . He did a lot for the FNRS (National found for scientific researches), also to promote our first airplane company called Sabena, he went to Congo for the inauguration of an important railway etc..
He celebrate Belgium's 100 years in 1930, which most beautiful present was the birth of the heir Prince Baudouin.
His death was for sure an accident. More than one million belgians came to Brussels for his funerals..
Albert was born Prince of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, Duke of Saxe . He changed his name in Albert , King of the Belgians.
This is one of my favourite kings! Thanks for all the info! =)
As for the King's death the story goes.....The king often liked to spend a couple of days rock climbing at Ardennes, but on this particular day, he had to attend a race meeting at six in the evening and it was decided that he was only to travel the one hours drive to the cliffs at Marche-les-Dames nr Namur. The exercise would keep him in trim for his more serious climbing in the Alps !!

The King and his Valet, had spent about an hours climbing and was returning to the car ready to depart back to Brussels, when the King decided it was still early and and told his valet to wait at the car and he would be back at 4pm, he would take one more ascent.But the King did not return at the appointed time, some hours passed and still no sign of the King. The valet phoned the palace and Captain Dixmude, the king's officier d'ordonnance set out at once followed by the Comte de Grunne and the King's doctor. The Queen was not told, as for as she knew, her husband was at the race meeting presenting prizes!.

For some four hours they searched for the king in the dark freezing conditons with no luck. at midnight they decided to involve four of Belgiums leading climbers in the search. Whilst waiting for their arrival, Captain Dixmude, tripped over a rope to which the King's body was attached. He was lying spread eagled with a deep dash to his head. The cause of the kings fall was due to the rock on which he rested had given way. The King had hit his head against the side of the pinnacle whilst he fell. Death was instantaneous.

When told of his death, the Queen (who knew by now he was missing), sat motionless with her eyes close for twenty minutes !
Thanks Johnnydep to remember Albert the first's tragic death..
Does anyone know any good scientific books or articles about the death of Albert I and in particular the conspiracies about his death?
Yes the most you can read about it is in the book (unfortunately in French)
LE ROI TUE written by Jacques a.m Noterman.
Jordan le Clercq Editions
ISBN 2-930359-06-4 2004
Plenty of texts and plenty of pix. Very interesting !
Albert was married to the excentric Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, a niece of Empress Sissi of Austria. The marriage was fairly happy generally considered a love match. Previously it was the ambitious Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna who wanted Albert to marry her daughter Grand Duchess Helen (future Pricness Nicholas of Greece), but Albert already had his eyes on Elisabeth. The couple got three children:

According to La Libre, the then Prince Albert's marriage to Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria was never countersigned by the government (why not?) as required by the Belgian Constitution. He nonetheless succceded to the throne for lack of other successors.

Voici pourquoi le prince Amedeo devait demander la permission de se marier au Roi - La
This is an old story , the law was not the same.
The Countess de Flandres had a candate a Princess of Orleans , Leopold II refused about their bad health.
Strange thing , there is absolutely no picture from her wedding. Perhaps someone died in the Wittelsbach family and it was a law coast wedding ???
This is an old story , the law was not the same.
The Countess de Flandres had a candate a Princess of Orleans , Leopold II refused about their bad health.
Strange thing , there is absolutely no picture from her wedding. Perhaps someone died in the Wittelsbach family and it was a law coast wedding ???

Thank you, but which law?
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