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The King was born on June 6, 1934 the second son of King Leopold III (1901–1983) of Belgium and his first wife Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). Albert was not expected to be king. His elder brother, King Baudouin (1930-1993), succeeded his father upon his abdication in 1951. King Baudouin was married to Fabiola de Mora y Aragón and although the union was a happy one, they did not have any children. Even then Albert was not expected to be king. It was understood that Albert’s son, the Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, would eventually succeed his uncle the king. I was surprised, and read that many Belgians were also surprised, when Albert assumed the kingship upon his brothers death in 1993. The king is first cousin to the reigning King Harald V of Norway and the uncle of the reigning Grand Duke Henri of Luxemburg.

He was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, Brussels. In 1940 when Belgium was occupied by Germany, Prince Albert, his elder sister Princess Joséphine-Charlotte and his brother Prince Baudouin, left the country where they spent time first in France and then later Spain. When they returned to Belgium later that year the young Belgian royals continued their studies at school until they were deported byu the Germans in 1944. Liberated by the American troops in 1945. But because of political unrest in Belgium, which would even tally lead to his father’s abdication, King Leopold and his family moved to the villa “Le Reposoir” in Pregny, Switzerland, and then they moved to Austria where they remained until returning to Belgium in July of 1950. .

Known as Prince Albert of Liege he represented Belgium (a Catholic country) at the Vatican for the papal coronation of Pope John XXIII in 1958. While at a reception at the Belgian embassy Albert met Italian Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria. The two soon became an item and were married on July 2, 1959 and have three children. The eldest child and heir to the throne is Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (1960-) and is married to Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz . Their next child is Princess Astrid (1962-), married to Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, Duke of Modena. Princess Astrid was falsely rumored to be the future bride of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, back in the late 70s. Their youngest child is Prince Laurent (1963-) who is married to Claire Coombs who was created a princess of Belgium. The five children of Princess Astrid and Archduke Lorenz were also created princes and princesses of Belgium.

Prior to becoming king Albert’s main job was the Honorary President of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Foreign Trade Office. He held this office for 31 years where he presided over trade missions throughout the world and visited Belgian companies that were operating in the field export. As king his duties are representative. Here is the section on his duties as king from the website of the Belgian Royal Family.

http://www.monarchie.be/monarchy-today

The Monarchy today

The King of Belgium’s duties include contacts with a wide range of representatives of Belgian society: members of the federal government, of the community and regional governments, MPs and political leaders, representatives of the economic, social, cultural and scientific sectors, academia, the media …

The King and the members of the Royal Family also keep in close touch with the citizens of Belgium, promoting private and public initiatives that help bring about social improvements. The King and the members of the Royal Family represent Belgium abroad at the highest levels (State visits, trade missions, participation in international meetings).

The king has been on the throne for 19 years and has been a solid representative of the Belgian nation. In 2010-2011 when the was no government for 451 days the king was a stabilizing presence while the politicians worked through their deadlock.

May he continue in good health and long may he reign.

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