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Philippe at 60: The Unexpected Heir


Photo: Laura Dekkers

Today, we’re looking back at King Philippe’s adult life until he became the King of the Belgians in 2013.

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After Prince Philippe turned 18, he joined the Belgium Royal Military School and began training. Here, he’s pictured in camouflage during a training exercise, on 16 October 1978.

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Prince Philippe in another training exercise, September 1978.

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Prince Philippe in a training exercise, September 1980.

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Prince Albert and Princess Paola – still over a decade away from their ascent to the throne – pose with their children, Princess Astrid, Prince Philippe, and Prince Laurent in 1980.

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Prince Philippe studying in April 1981. In addition to his military training, Prince Philippe also studied at Trinity College, Oxford, and Stanford University, where he earned a graduate degree in 1985.

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Prince Philippe trained to fly at the Pilot School of the Belgian Air Force in Gossoncourt, Belgium, beginning in 1981. Here, he’s pictured training with an instructor in July 1981.

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In 1992, Prince Philippe attended the silver wedding anniversary for Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik.

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Prince Philippe and his parents, Prince Albert and Princess Paola, at Belgian National Day celebrations on 21 July 1993.

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On 31 July 1993, the childless King Baudouin of Belgium passed away due to heart failure. His younger brother, Albert, became King, and Prince Philippe became the heir apparent to the Belgian throne. Here, the Belgian Royal Family is pictured following the funeral of King Baudouin.

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In May 1994, Prince Philippe visited Japan. Here, he’s pictured with Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at the Belgian Embassy in Tokyo.

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Prince Philippe meeting with the Belgian troops returning from Rwanda in June 1994.

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Prince Philippe attending a dinner to raise money for the Children of the Former Eastern Bloc in June 1995.

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Prince Philippe on a visit to the Philippines in 1996.

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Prince Philippe at a State Banquet in Tokyo in 1996. He accompanied his parents on the trip.

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Prince Philippe at the men’s finals of the 1997 French Open.

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At the 80th anniversary commemorations of the Armistice in France in 1998.

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King Albert with two future kings: his son and Prince Felipe of Spain in 1999.

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Prince Philippe and Queen Fabiola, his aunt, during a state event for Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg in 1999.

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On 13 September 1999, Prince Philippe made a surprise announcement to the Belgian public: he was engaged to Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz and they would be married on 4 December that year. Here, the couple are pictured with Queen Paola.

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The couple on their wedding day, 4 December 1999.

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At the Euro 2000 football championships in Brussels, watching the final match between Belgium and Italy. Italy won.

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On a visit to Seoul, South Korea, in December 2000.

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In Kosovo, 2001.

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Prince Philippe’s first child, Princess Elisabeth, was born on 25 October 2001. Here, the new family poses together during a photocall in January 2002.

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Prince Philippe attended the opening of the ‘Le Francais, Langue du Monde’ (French, Language of the World) Colloquium in Brussels, March 2002.

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At the funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002.

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In Kazakhstan, November 2002.

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Prince Philippe on a five-day visit to Mexico in February 2003.

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The young family posing together at a family photocall in May 2003. Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde welcomed their second child and first son, Prince Gabriel, in August of that year.

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Prince Philippe taking part in a bicycle parade to mark his father’s ten years on the Belgian throne in July 2003.

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The next month, he and Princess Mathilde welcomed Prince Gabriel. Here they are leaving the hospital.

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At a meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, October 2003.

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Aboard a hot air balloon over Brussels in 2004.

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In October 2004, Prince Philippe made an official visit to Tunisia.

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Opening the new airport control tower at the Belgium National Airport in March 2005.

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In April 2005, Prince Philippe was among the dignitaries present for Pope Benedict XVI’s first mass in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

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Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde welcomed their third child, Prince Emmanuel, on 4 October 2005.

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Prince Philippe pictured with the Emir of Qatar in November 2006.

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On 20 April 2007, Prince Philippe visited Lebanon.

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In February 2008, Prince Philippe hosted Prince Charles, who was in Brussels to give a speech about climate change at the European Parliament.

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His fourth child and second daughter, Princess Eléonore was born on 16 April 2008.

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In June 2008, Prince Albert of Monaco paid a state visit to Belgium. Prince Philippe hosted him for several engagements.

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Prince Philippe opened the Auto Show in January 2009.

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Meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in June 2011.

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Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde paid a visit to Luxembourg in November 2011. Here, Prince Philippe is greeting the crowd.

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Pictured during a ten-day visit to Australia in November 2012. Here, Prince Philippe is in Melbourne.

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Following the visit to Australia, Prince Philippe visited New Zealand.

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On 30 April 2013, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde attended the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Though rumours swirled for a while, it wasn’t until 3 July of that year that King Albert II formally announced his plan to abdicate the throne in favour of his son.

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On 20 July, Prince Philippe attended a concert in honour of the abdication and inauguration of two kings.

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On 21 July 2013, King Philippe was officially proclaimed King of the Belgians. He reigns to this day.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.