Last modified: 1 January 2014
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.
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 create 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 became the possession of 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. 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. 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.
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.
- Princess Elisabeth (born 2001)
- Prince Gabriel (born 2003)
- Prince Emmanuel (born 2005)
- Princess Eléonore (born 2008)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Albert II (1934-)||1993-abd. 2013|
- The Belgian Monarchy
- Delphine Boël
- Princess Esmeralda on Twitter
- Baudouin and Fabiola – The royal wedding
- Belvue Museum
- Paleis op de Meir
- Parish of Notre-Dame de Laeken
- Fonds Prince Philippe
- Stichting Koningin Paola
- Fondation Prince Laurent
- Fonds d’Entraide Prince et Princesse Alexandre de Belgique
- King Baudouin Foundation
- Koningin Elisabethwedstrijd
- Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel