King Albert celebrates his 90th birthday

king albert ii of belgiumBy Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών - ASEM, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

King Albert II of Belgium celebrates his 90th birthday today. Let’s take a look at the life of the former Belgian monarch.

Albert was born on 6 June 1934 as the youngest son of King Leopold III of Belgium and Princess Astrid of Astrid. His two elder siblings were the future King Baudouin of Belgium and Joséphine-Charlotte, later Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. He was born second in the line of succession behind his elder brother and was known as the Prince of Liège. He was just one year old when his mother tragically died in a car accident.

During the Second World War, they lived as prisoners of the Germans. In 1941, Albert’s father remarried Mary Lilian Baels, who became known as the Princess of Réthy. This marriage produced three half-siblings for Albert. At the end of the war, Albert and his family were deported to Germany, and after peace was made, the family moved to Switzerland, where Albert attended school. Albert, his father, and his brother returned to Belgium in 1950. He later also served in the Navy.

King Leopold abdicated in favour of Baudouin on 16 July 1951. This action made Albert first in the line of succession.

Albert married Paola Ruffo di Calabria on 2 July 1959, and they went on to have three children together: Philippe (born 1960), Astrid (born 1962) and Laurent (born 1963). He also fathered an illegitimate daughter named Delphine in 1968; she was officially recognised in 2020.

The marriage of King Baudoin and Fabiola de Mora y Aragón turned out to be childless. This meant that upon Baudouin’s sudden death on 31 July 1993, Albert succeeded his brother as King. He reigned for 20 years before abdicating in favour of his eldest son, Philippe, on 21 July 2013.

As he celebrates his 90th birthday, he has 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He has had some health problems, including a recent fall, but he is generally in good health.

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