Philippe of Belgium

Last updated

Sergio Mattarella and Belgian King Philippe at Quirinale in 2021 (6) (cropped).jpg
King Philippe in 2021
King of the Belgians
Reign21 July 2013 – present
Predecessor Albert II
Heiress apparent Elisabeth
Prime Ministers Elio Di Rupo
Charles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Alexander De Croo
Born (1960-04-15) 15 April 1960 (age 63)
Belvédère Château, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
(m. 1999)
Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria
French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie
German: Philipp Leopold Ludwig Maria
House Belgium
Father Albert II of Belgium
Mother Paola Ruffo di Calabria
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Philippe of Belgium signature.svg

Philippe [lower-alpha 1] (born 15 April 1960) is King of the Belgians. He is the eldest child of King Albert II and Queen Paola. He succeeded his father upon the former’s abdication for health reasons on 21 July 2013. He married Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz in 1999, with whom he has four children. Their eldest child, Princess Elisabeth, is first in the line of succession.


Early life

Philippe was born on 15 April 1960 at the Belvédère Château in Laeken, northern Brussels. His father, Prince Albert, Prince of Liège (later King Albert II), was the second son of King Leopold III of Belgium and a younger brother of Baudouin. His mother, Paola, Princess of Liège (later Queen Paola), is a daughter of the Italian aristocrat Fulco VIII, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda. His mother descends from the French House of La Fayette, and the king is a descendant of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, and Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles.[ citation needed ]

Philippe was baptised one month later at the Church of St. James on Coudenberg in Brussels on 17 May, [1] and named Philippe after his great-great-grandfather Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders. His godparents were his paternal grandfather, King Leopold III, and his maternal grandmother, Donna Luisa, Princess Ruffo di Calabria. [2]

Albert and Paola's marriage was unhappy, and they were usually absent from Philippe's life. The child neglect was so severe that child psychologist Peter Adriaenssens  [ nl ] described it as justifying intervention by social workers. [3]

Philippe has a half-sibling, Princess Delphine of Belgium (born 1968).

He was also the fifth cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II since they share a common ancestor, Francis (he was the grandfather of Queen Victoria and one of his sons, Leopold I would become the first King of the Belgians). Queen Elizabeth II and King Philippe had been 3rd cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.


As a child the future king was required to move from a French-language school which he liked to a secondary school in Flanders, where he found it difficult to make friends. "In my youth, I had many problems at school", Philippe told teenage dropouts in 2019. "I felt badly treated. It was not easy for me". [3] From 1978 to 1981, Philippe was educated at the Belgian Royal Military Academy in the 118th "Promotion Toutes Armes" (Promotion All Weapons). On 26 September 1980, he was appointed second lieutenant and took the officer's oath. [4]

Philippe continued his education at Trinity College, Oxford, and he attended graduate school at Stanford University, California, where he graduated in 1985 with an MA degree in political science. [4] He obtained his fighter pilot's wings and his certificates as a parachutist and a commando. In 1989, he attended a series of special sessions at the Royal Higher Defence Institute. The same year, he was promoted to colonel.

In 1993, King Baudouin died in Spain, Albert became the new king, and Philippe became the new heir apparent, titled Duke of Brabant.

On 25 March 2001, Philippe was appointed to the rank of major-general in the Land Component and the Air Component and to the rank of rear-admiral in the Naval Component. [4]


King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wave to crowds in Brussels after his swearing in as the new Belgian monarch. Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde.JPG
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wave to crowds in Brussels after his swearing in as the new Belgian monarch.

Philippe married Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz, daughter of a Walloon count of a Belgian noble family and female line descendant of Polish noble families such as the princes Sapieha and counts Komorowski, on 4 December 1999 in Brussels, in a civil ceremony at the Brussels Town Hall and a religious ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint Michel and Saint Gudule in Brussels. They have four children who were all born at Erasmus Hospital in Anderlecht, Brussels:

Foreign trade

On 6 August 1993, the government named Philippe as honorary chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board (BFTB). He succeeded his father, who had been honorary chairman of the BFTB since 1962. On 3 May 2003, he was appointed honorary chairman of the board of the Foreign Trade Agency, replacing the BFTB. [5]

In this capacity, Philippe has headed more than 60 economic missions. [6] [7] Upon his accession as seventh King of the Belgians, this role was taken over by his sister Princess Astrid.


Philippe in Antwerp, 2013 Koning Filip van Belgie.jpg
Philippe in Antwerp, 2013

King Albert II announced on 3 July 2013 that he would abdicate in favour of Philippe on 21 July 2013. [8] Approximately one hour after King Albert II's abdication, Prince Philippe was sworn in as King of the Belgians. [9] His eldest child, Princess Elisabeth, became his heir apparent and is expected to become Belgium's first queen regnant.

Philippe played a role in forming a coalition government after the 2014 Belgian federal election. [10] Political meetings with the King were moved from the Palace of Laeken to the Royal Palace of Brussels. [10] In May 2019, Philippe met with Vlaams Belang President Tom Van Grieken, the first time the party had received a royal audience. [10] [11]

In 2020, Philippe announced regret for the "acts of violence and cruelty" committed in the Congo Free State. [10]

Honours and arms

Personal Standard of Philippe, King of the Belgians Royal Standard of King Philippe of Belgium.svg
Personal Standard of Philippe, King of the Belgians

National honours

Foreign honours


Coat of arms of Philippe of Belgium
Coat of Arms of the King of the Belgians.svg
In 2019 the king codified the coats of arms of himself and those of his family through a Royal Decree. The arms of the reigning monarch was modified to include the Saxonian escutcheon. The arms of other members of the royal family was similarly modified. [20] [21] The reinstatement of the shield of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha into the royal arms occurred shortly after the visit of the king and queen to the ancestral Friedenstein Castle. The latest royal decree therefore reverses previous changes made to the Royal versions of the coat arms which removed the armorial bearings of Saxony during the First World War. [22] By including the three official languages in the motto it reflects his wish "to be the King of the whole Kingdom and of all Belgians". [23]
12 July 2019
Royal crown of Belgium
A golden royal helm with the visor open
Sable, a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules (Belgium), on the shoulder an escutcheon barry of ten sable and or, a crancelin vert (Wettin), with two crossed sceptres (a hand of justice and a lion) or behind a shield.
Two lions guardant proper each supporting a lance or with two National Flags of Belgium (Tierced per pale Sable, Or and Gules).
French: L'union fait la force
Dutch: Eendracht maakt macht
German: Einigkeit macht stark
Order of Leopold
Other elements
The whole is placed on a mantle purpure with ermine lining, fringes and tassels or and ensigned with the Royal crown of Belgium.
Previous versions
Previously as monarch, Philippe used the royal coat of arms of Belgium undifferenced.


See also


  1. French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie [filipleɔpɔldlwimaʁi] ; Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria [ˈfilɪpˈleːjoːpɔltˈloːdəʋɛikmaːˈrijaː]

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Philippe of Belgium
Born: 15 April 1960
Belgian royalty
Title last held by
Duke of Brabant
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of the Belgians
Heir apparent: