SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

BelgiumFeaturesInsight

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.

[getty src=”172013850″ width=”438″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”172013561″ width=”594″ height=”437″ tld=”ca”]

Prince Philippe in another training exercise, September 1978.

[getty src=”172013559″ width=”594″ height=”438″ tld=”ca”]

Prince Philippe in a training exercise, September 1980.

[getty src=”103453649″ width=”594″ height=”408″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”173274228″ width=”594″ height=”437″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”172013617″ width=”594″ height=”440″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”542261566″ width=”396″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”542265348″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”607447752″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”173280801″ width=”594″ height=”427″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”542355522″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”542268742″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”173293608″ width=”594″ height=”394″ tld=”ca”]

Prince Philippe on a visit to the Philippines in 1996.

[getty src=”173523101″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”1203058397″ width=”594″ height=”372″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”954640078″ width=”396″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”542257572″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”533607762″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”542258522″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”52112698″ width=”594″ height=”365″ tld=”ca”]

The couple on their wedding day, 4 December 1999.

[getty src=”173830774″ width=”594″ height=”405″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”1318901″ width=”594″ height=”415″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”173830776″ width=”594″ height=”400″ tld=”ca”]

In Kosovo, 2001.

[getty src=”173830469″ width=”471″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”510608278″ width=”594″ height=”390″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”115131710″ width=”594″ height=”397″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”1601278″ width=”594″ height=”417″ tld=”ca”]

In Kazakhstan, November 2002.

[getty src=”1800227″ width=”594″ height=”394″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”2035023″ width=”422″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”2370853″ width=”594″ height=”432″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”2422671″ width=”594″ height=”499″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”2551524″ width=”594″ height=”390″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”50847863″ width=”594″ height=”446″ tld=”ca”]

Aboard a hot air balloon over Brussels in 2004.

[getty src=”51432861″ width=”594″ height=”417″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”52287974″ width=”594″ height=”436″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”52689208″ width=”594″ height=”422″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”52689930″ width=”594″ height=”359″]

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

[getty src=”72582104″ width=”594″ height=”412″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”73937040″ width=”594″ height=”420″ tld=”ca”]

On 20 April 2007, Prince Philippe visited Lebanon.

[getty src=”79740985″ width=”594″ height=”420″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”80743482″ width=”594″ height=”384″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”81617305″ width=”594″ height=”429″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”84316939″ width=”594″ height=”405″ tld=”ca”]

Prince Philippe opened the Auto Show in January 2009.

[getty src=”117570979″ width=”594″ height=”395″ tld=”ca”]

Meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in June 2011.

[getty src=”133037346″ width=”594″ height=”418″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”156952850″ width=”594″ height=”380″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”157029107″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”167798251″ width=”395″ height=”594″ tld=”ca”]

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.

[getty src=”174103554″ width=”594″ height=”395″ tld=”ca”]

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

[getty src=”174157787″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”ca”]

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

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.