Albert II of Belgium

Albert II[lower-alpha 1] (born 6 June 1934) is a member of the Belgian royal family who reigned as King of the Belgians from 9 August 1993 to 21 July 2013.

Albert II
King Albert II in March 2010
King of the Belgians
Reign9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013
Prime ministers
Born (1934-06-06) 6 June 1934
Stuyvenberg Castle, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
(m. 1959)
FatherLeopold III of Belgium
MotherAstrid of Sweden
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Albert II is the son of King Leopold III and the last living child of Queen Astrid, born a princess of Sweden.[lower-alpha 2] He is the younger brother of the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg and King Baudouin, whom he succeeded upon Baudouin's death in 1993. He married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria (now Queen Paola), with whom he had three children. Albert's eldest son, Philippe, is the current King of the Belgians.

On 3 July 2013, King Albert II attended a midday session of the Belgian cabinet. He then announced that, on 21 July, Belgian National Day, he would abdicate the throne for health reasons. He was succeeded by his son Philippe on 21 July 2013. Albert II was the fourth monarch to abdicate in 2013, following Pope Benedict XVI, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Emir Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar.[3] In so doing, he was also the second Belgian monarch to abdicate, following his father Leopold III who abdicated in 1951, albeit under very different circumstances.

Early life

Prince Albert was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, Brussels, as the second son and youngest child of King Leopold III and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden. He was second in line to the throne at birth, and was given the title Prince of Liège. Queen Astrid died in a car accident on 29 August 1935, in which King Leopold was lightly injured but survived, when Prince Albert was one year old. The King remarried to Mary Lilian Baels (later became Princess of Réthy) in 1941. The couple produced three children: Prince Alexandre, Princess Marie-Christine and Princess Marie-Esméralda (who is also Albert's goddaughter). Albert and his siblings had a close relationship with their stepmother and they called her "Mother".[4][5]

During World War II, on 10 May 1940, at the time when Belgium was being invaded, Prince Albert, his elder sister Princess Joséphine-Charlotte and his elder brother Prince Baudouin, left the country for France and later Spain. The Prince and the Princess returned to Belgium on 2 August 1940. They continued their studies until 1944, either at Laeken, or at the Castle of Ciergnon in the Ardennes. In June 1944, at the time of the Allied landings, King Leopold, his wife Princess Lilian and the royal children were deported by the Germans to Hirschstein, Germany, and later to Strobl, Austria, where they were liberated by the American Army on 7 May 1945. Owing to the political situation in Belgium, King Leopold and his family moved to the villa "Le Reposoir" in Pregny, Switzerland, when they left Austria in October 1945 and stayed until July 1950. During that time, Prince Albert would continue his education in a secondary school in Geneva. King Leopold III, accompanied by Prince Baudouin and Prince Albert, returned to Belgium on 22 July 1950.[6]

Marriage and family

Albert (right) and his brother Baudouin, circa 1940
King Albert II and Queen Paola with US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the Royal Palace of Brussels in 2005

In 1958, Albert went to the Vatican to witness the coronation of Pope John XXIII. At a reception at the Belgian Embassy, he met Italian Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria. Prince Albert proposed marriage to her, to which she accepted. Two months after their meeting, the prince introduced his future wife to his family, and four months later to the press. The couple were married on 2 July 1959, one-and-a-half years before Albert's older brother, the king, got married (a marriage which would prove childless). Albert and Paola have three children, twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Their children are:

Delphine Boël

In 1997, the Belgian satirical magazine Père Ubu reported that the Belgian sculptor Delphine Boël (born in 1968) was King Albert II's extramarital daughter.[7] It took some years for the Belgian mainstream media to report this news. According to Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, the mother of Delphine, she and Albert shared an 18-year-long relationship[8] into which Delphine was born.

In June 2013, Boël summoned the then King and his two older children (the then Duke of Brabant and the Archduchess of Austria-Este) to appear in court. She hoped to use DNA tests to prove that she is the King's daughter. As the King enjoyed complete immunity under the law, Boël decided to summon his elder children as well.[9][10] The king abdicated the following month, in July 2013. After the King's abdication, Boël abandoned her first suit to introduce a second one only against the former King as he was no longer protected by immunity and the first claim would have been judged according to the situation at the time of the introduction of the claim.[11]

In March 2017, the Court ruled that her claim was unfounded, and her lawyers said she would take the claim to appeal.[12] On 25 October 2018, the Court of Appeal decided that Delphine Boël is not a descendant of Jacques Boël, and ordered King Albert to undergo DNA testing. His lawyer announced that he would seek further advice about a possible referral to Belgium's Cour de Cassation / Hof van Cassatie.[13] In 2019, the King's lawyer confirmed he would not provide a DNA sample in the case.[14]

On 29 May 2019, it was reported by CNN that Albert II had submitted a DNA sample after a Belgian court ruled on 16 May that he would be fined 5,000 euros for each day that he failed to do so, although he would continue to challenge the ruling, according to his attorney, Alain Berenboom.[15][16]

The results of these DNA samples were released on 27 January 2020 by Alain Berenboom, confirming Delphine Boël as Albert II's daughter. Albert II confirmed this on 27 January 2020 in a press release.[17]

"The king will treat all his children as equal," Berenboom said, according to VTM News. "King Albert now has four children."[18][19]

While it was proven that Boël was his biological daughter, her legal status as a daughter was not recognized[20][21] until a 1 October 2020 ruling of the Brussels Court of Appeal, which also recognized Boël as a princess of Belgium and granted her the new surname of Saxe-Coburg.[22]

Official role

The King reviewing the army during the Belgian National Day, 2011

As the younger brother of the childless King Baudouin, Prince Albert was the heir-presumptive to the throne. Albert's son Philippe was groomed to eventually succeed. On Baudouin's death, Albert was sworn in before parliament, on 9 August 1993, as King of the Belgians.[23]

As King, Albert's duties included representing Belgium at home and abroad on state visits, trade missions, and at high level international meetings as well as taking an interest in Belgian society, culture and enterprise.[24]

In 1984, he set up the Prince Albert Foundation, to promote expertise in foreign trade.[25]

The King had a constitutional role which came into play in 2010–2011 when Belgium's parliament was unable to agree on a government. When the crisis was resolved, Albert swore in the new government.[26]

Albert sparked controversy in his December 2012 Christmas speech by comparing modern "populist movements" with those of the 1930s. This was seen by several political commentators, as well as many Flemish politicians, as aimed implicitly at the large Flemish nationalist party, the N-VA.[27] Bart De Wever, the party's leader, called for the King's role in the formation of Belgian governments to be changed in the wake of this comment since he "could no longer see the monarch as playing the constitutional role of referee."[27]


On 3 July 2013, 79-year-old King Albert II attended a midday session of the Belgian cabinet, where he revealed his intention to abdicate to Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and to the deputy prime ministers. This came less than one month after the king and two of his children had been asked to appear in court by the Belgian sculptor Delphine Boël, who was intent on proving that the king was her biological father. According to a letter sent by the King to the Prime Minister and dated 3 July 2013, and which was made public, the King had already broached the topic of his intention to abdicate several times with the Prime Minister, who had asked him to reconsider it.[28] At 6 PM (CET) the King announced in a recorded radio and television speech that on 21 July, Belgium's National Day, he would abdicate the throne for health reasons. He was succeeded by his elder son, Philippe.[3]

After his abdication on 21 July 2013 it was decided that he would be styled as His Majesty King Albert II,[29] the same form of address granted to his father, Leopold III, after his abdication.


Royal monogram of King Albert II of Belgium
Coat of arms as King of the Belgians
Personal Standard of King Albert II.

Dynastic honours

Honorary degrees

King Albert II is Doctor Honoris Causa of:


  • Boulevard du Roi Albert II/Koning Albert II-laan, Brussels.
  • Boulevard Prince de Liège /Prins van Luiklaan, Brussels
  • Institute King Albert II, University hospital of Saint-Luc.[47]


Coat of arms of Albert II of Belgium
As a former reigning monarch of Belgium, the king is entitled to use a coat of arms which was stipulated in the Royal Decree of King Philippe in 2019.[48]
12 July 2019
Royal crown of Belgium
A lambrequin or lined with sable
A golden helmet sideways with the visor open
Sable, a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules (Belgium), on the shoulder an escutcheon barry of ten sable and or, a crancelin vert (Wettin), overall a label of three points gules, the centre point a royal crown or.
Two lions guardant proper each supporting a lance or with two National Flags of Belgium (Tierced per pale Sable, or and Gules).
French: L'union fait la force
Dutch: Eendracht maakt macht
German: Einigkeit macht stark
Other elements
The whole is placed on a mantle purpure with ermine lining, fringes and tassels or and ensigned with the Royal crown of Belgium.
Previous versions
Previously as reigning monarch, Albert used the royal coat of arms of Belgium undifferenced (shown above).


See also

  • Line of succession to the Belgian throne
  • Crown Council of Belgium
  • Royal Trust
  • Prince Albert Fund
  • Michel Didisheim, former private secretary
  • Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou, former chief of the Kings Cabinet.
  • Frank De Coninck, (former) Marshal of the Royal Household


  1. French: Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie, pronounced [albɛʁ feliks œ̃bɛʁ teɔdɔʁ kʁistjɑ̃ øʒɛn maʁi]; Dutch: Albert Felix Humbert Theodoor Christiaan Eugène Marie, pronounced [ˈɑlbərt ˈfeːlɪks ˈɦʏmbərt teːjoːˈdoːr ˈkrɪstijaːn øːˈʒɛːn maːˈri]; German: Albrecht Felix Humbert Theodor Christian Eugen Maria, pronounced [ˈalbʁɛçt ˈfeːlɪks ˈhʊmbɛʁt ˈteːodoːɐ̯ ˈkʁɪsti̯a(ː)n ˈʔɔʏɡn̩ maˈʁiːaː]
  2. Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium[1] and Princess Marie-Christine of Belgium,[2] the two daughters of Leopold III and his second wife, Lilian, Princess of Réthy, are also still alive.


  1. "Belgian royal asks nation to apologize to DRC for past".
  3. Matthew Price (3 July 2013). "Belgium's King Albert II announces abdication". BBC News.
  4. Cleeremans, Jean. Léopold III, sa famille, son peuple sous l'occupation; Keyes, Roger. Echec au Roi, Léopold III, 1940–1951
  5. White, Sam (3 July 1953). "Europe's Most Slandered Princess". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  6. "King Albert II". The Belgian Monarchy. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  7. Falter, Rolf (19 May 2005). "Pigment over Delphine Boël en Albert II". De Tijd.
  8. Higgins, Andrew (19 July 2013). "Belgium Is Also Awaiting Possible News of a New Royal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  9. Stroobants, Jean-Pierre (17 June 2013). "En Belgique, la fille adultérine d'Albert II exige une reconnaissance officielle". Le Monde. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  10. Bacchi, Umberto (18 June 2013). "Belgium: King Albert's 'Disowned Natural Daughter' Delphine Boel Seeks Recognition in Court". International Business Times. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  11. Le Vif, "Chacun sait que le roi Albert est le père biologique de Delphine Boël" Archived 15 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. mtm (28 March 2017). "Delphine Boël vangt bot bij rechter: koning Albert II is niet haar wettelijke vader". Het Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  13. "Advocaat Paleis: 'Niet zeker of koning Albert DNA-test zal ondergaan'". De Standaard, datem 5 November 2018.
  14. "Belgian ex-king Albert II refuses DNA test in love-child case". BBC News. February 2019.
  15. Former Belgian king submits DNA sample in paternity case
  16. Analysis of King Albert’s DNA may be used as evidence in Delphine Boël paternity case
  17. "DNA test confirms: King Albert is the biological father of Delphine Boël". vrtnws. 27 January 2020.
  18. DNA test forces former Belgian king to admit fathering a child in extramarital affair
  19. Former Belgian King Albert II admits he fathered love child over 50 years ago
  20. Nu Delphine Boël wel degelijk de dochter van koning Albert II is: wordt ze prinses? En deelt ze in de erfenis? Article in Dutch
  21. but Albert stated he will not raise any objections about his legal paternity. A court will decide about this matter in the near future.Ex-King of Belgium Acknowledges a Long-Dismissed Daughter
  22. Boffey, Daniel "Delphine Boel, Belgian king's daughter wins right to call herself princess" The Guardian (1 October 2020)
  23. "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – Royal Family – King Albert II". The Belgian Monarchy.
  24. "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today". The Belgian Monarchy.
  25. "The Belgian Monarchy: Home – The Monarchy today – Royal Initiatives – Prince Albert Fund". The Belgian Monarchy.
  26. "Belgium swears in new government headed by Elio Di Rupo". BBC News. 6 December 2011.
  27. "Belgium King Albert II Christmas speech sparks controversy". BBC News Online. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  28. "Letter of King Albert II to Prime Minister Di Rupo announcing his intention to abdicate".
  29. "Koning der Belgen versus Koning (Dutch)". 3 July 2013.
  30. Carnet Mondain, [Carnet Mondain, p. 2 ed. 2005] book page with Alberts honours
  31. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 53. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  32. "The Belgian Monarchy". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  33. "Vabariigi President". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  34. "Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ritarikunnan suurristin ketjuineen ulkomaalaiset saajat". Archived from the original on 2 November 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  35. "Fálkaorðuhafar". 21 October 1936. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  36. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. "President of the Republic of Lithuania - The Belgian Royal Couple pays the first visit to Lithuania".
  39. "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat". Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  40. Carnet Mondain, p. 2 ed. 2005
  42. "Den kongelige norske Sanct Olavs Orden", Norges Statskalender for Aaret 1970 (in Norwegian), Oslo: Forlagt av H. Aschehoug & Co. (w. Nygaard), 1970, p. 1240 via
  43. "ENTIDADES ESTRANGEIRAS AGRACIADAS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS - Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  44. "Cancelaria Ordinelor".
  45. "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF).
  46. " - Documento BOE-A-1978-7199".
  47. "Institut Roi Albert II - Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc".
  48. Philippe, Koning der Belgen (12 July 2019). "Koninklijk besluit houdende vaststelling van het wapen van het Koninklijk Huis en van zijn leden" (PDF). Moniteur Belge/ Belgisch Staatsblad. Retrieved 24 July 2019.

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