10 important facts about the Belgian Monarchy

King Albert will abdicate on 21st July.

King Albert will abdicate on 21st July.

With the Belgian Abdication just announced (and happening in just a few weeks’ time), we thought we’d give you 10 of the most need-to-know facts about the Belgian Monarchy.

  1. The Belgian Kings and Queens are known as ‘King/Queen of the Belgians’ rather than King/Queen of Belgium – this title convention is mean to show that the Monarch of Belgium has a personal/close connection to the people of Belgium rather than just the territory of Belgium.
  2. The Belgian throne and British throne (and their respective royal families) are closely related. The Belgian Royal House bears the same name as the House of Windsor formerly did before 1917 (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha).
  3. Prince Philippe is also approximately 1080th in line to the British throne.
  4. The first King of the Belgians was also Queen Victoria’s uncle. King Leopold was married to the heir to the throne of England, Princess Charlotte, until she tragically died in childbirth – after the death of Princess Charlotte, Leopold was offered the chance to be the first King of the Belgians in 1831. He remained in close contact with Princess Victoria, becoming a close advisor to her even after she became Queen of England.
  5. With the accession of the new King on 21st July, his wife will also become Queen of the Belgians, meaning there will be three living Belgian Queens. The current outgoing King’s brother’s wife, Queen Fabiola; the current Queen, Queen Paola and the new Queen (wife of Prince Philippe), Queen Mathilde.
  6. Belgium introduced absolute primogeniture in 1991, meaning the eldest child of the Sovereign becomes Monarch, regardless of gender. The heir apparent to the Belgian throne after Prince Philippe succeeds will be the 12-year-old daughter of Philippe, Princess Elisabeth, who will become Duchess of Brabant.
  7. The new King will reign as King Philippe, but he will not have a regnal number (e.g. Philippe I) as he’ll be the only Belgian King called Philippe.
  8. King Albert II will become only the second Monarch in Belgian history to abdicate. King Leopold III abdicated the Belgian throne in 1951 in favour of his son, who became King Baudouin. Overall, there have been 6 Belgian Kings (yet no Queens regnant), Prince Philippe will number as 7.
  9. King Albert II played a vital role in mediating Belgian Parliament in 2010-2011 when he stepped in after Parliament couldn’t form a government. He is much praised for his role in refereeing this constitutional crisis and it is a good example of the importance of Monarchy in this day and age.
  10. King Albert will continue to be known as King even after abdication according to Belgian news sources, meaning Belgium will be the only country in the world with two living Kings.

photo credit: President of the European Council via photopin cc