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Edit: I was going to post this last week but with all the news surrounding the birth of Prince George of Cambridge this got bumped.

On Sunday, July 21, 2013 HM King Albert II of the Belgians abdicated, due to health reasons, and his eldest son, HRH The Duke of Brabant, took the throne as King Philippe of the Belgians. He is the 7th King of the Belgians since that country became independent in 1830. This is Belgium’s second abdication of one of their kings. In 1951 King Leopold III abdicated under pressure due to his actions during World War II.

Prior to the accession of Albert II in 1993 many thought that Philippe would be king after the death of his uncle, King Baudouin, (Albert’s elder brother) and that he was being groomed for the throne. Instead Prince Albert, Philippe’s father, took the throne as King Albert II of the Belgians.

King Philippe attended the Belgian Royal Military Academy appointed the rank of second lieutenant. He continued his education at Trinity College, Oxford and did his graduate studies at Stanford University, California, where he graduated in 1985 with an Master’s Degree in Political Science. In 1999 Philippe  married Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz, daughter of a was Count Patrick d’Udekem d’Acoz and Polish Countess Anna Maria Komorowska. Through both her parents the new Queen of the Belgians is a descendant of Belgian nobility and Polish nobility such as the Princes Sapieha and Counts Komorowski.

They have four children.

  • Princess Elisabeth Thérèse Marie Hélène, Duchess of Brabant, born 25 October 2001
  • Prince Gabriel Baudouin Charles Marie, born 20 August 2003
  • Prince Emmanuel Léopold Guillaume François Marie, born 4 October 2005
  • Princess Eléonore Fabiola Victoria Anne Marie, born 16 April 2008

The Belgian Royal Family descends from the German House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, was the uncle of both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) This makes King Philippe and Queen Elizabeth II of the UK 3rd cousins once removed. German royal houses often had agnatic primogeniture (the Lex Salica, or Salic law) which gave rights to the throne to males only and women could not even inherit the throne they could not pass on succession right to their children. In 1991 the succession laws were changed to  absolute primogeniture (in which the eldest child is always heir apparent).

With Philippe now the king his eldest child, Princess Elisabeth, is next in the line of succession after her father, followed by her younger brothers, Prince Gabriel and Prince Emmanuel, and her younger sister Princess Eléonore. Upon his mounting the throne Princess Elisabeth became the new Duchess of Brabant and in due course, when she takes the throne she will be Belgium’s first Queen Regnant. The Duchess of Brabant is the third female heir to the throne currently in Europe along with Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange of the Netherlands.

I wish the new king a long and prosperous reign with good health!