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King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola
King of the Belgians
Reign 17 July 1951 – 31 July 1993
(42 years)
Predecessor Leopold III
Successor Albert II
Consort Fabiola de Mora y Aragón
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Leopold III of Belgium
Mother Astrid of Sweden
Born 7 September 1930(1930-09-07)
Laeken, Belgium
Died 31 July 1993 (aged 62)
Motril, Spain

Baudouin (French: Baudouin Albert Charles Léopold Axel Marie Gustave de Belgique or Dutch: Boudewijn Albert Karel Leopold Axel Marie Gustaaf van België) (7 September 1930 – 31 July 1993) reigned as King of the Belgians, following his father's abdication, from 1951 until his death in 1993. He was the eldest son of King Leopold III (1901-1983) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905-1935). Having had no children, the crown passed on to his brother, Albert II of Belgium, upon his death. Baudouin is the French form of his name, the form most commonly used outside Belgium; his Dutch name is Boudewijn. Very rarely, his name is anglicized as Baldwin.


Ascent to the throne

Baudouin was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, near Laeken, Brussels, in Belgium. On 1 August 1950 his father King Leopold III requested the Belgian Government and the Parliament to approve a law delegating his royal powers to his son, Prince Baudouin, who took the constitutional oath before the United Chambers of the Belgian Parliament as Prince Royal on 11 August 1950. He ascended the throne and became the fifth King of the Belgians upon taking the constitutional oath on 17 July 1951, one day following his father's abdication.

Part of Leopold III's unpopularity was the result of a second marriage in 1941 to Mary Lilian Baels, an English-born Belgian commoner, later known as Princess de Réthy. More controversial had been Leopold's decision to surrender to Nazi Germany during World War II, when Belgium was invaded in 1940; many Belgians questioned his loyalties, but a commission of inquiry exonerated him of treason after World War II. Though reinstated in a plebiscite, the controversy surrounding Leopold led to his abdication.


On 15 December 1960, Baudouin was married in Brussels to the aristocrat socialite Her Excellency Doña Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón, the third daughter of Don Gonzalo de Mora y Fernández, Riera y del Olmo, Marquess of Casa Riera, 2nd Count of Mora (1887—1957) and his wife, Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz, Barroeta-Aldamar y Elio, Marchioness of Casa Riera, 2nd Countess of Mora (1892—1981). She is the sister of the late Count Jaime de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish actor and jet-set playboy. Queen Fabiola was a former nurse and a writer of children's stories. Her Majesty is immensely popular for her good cheer, personal modesty, and devotion to social causes. The Belgian Royal Couple had no children, which was a source of much sadness in the marriage, and would provide a partial reason why the King was so uncomfortable with the topic of abortion. When in 1990, the Belgian government passed a law drastically liberalising abortion, King Baudouin could not bring himself to sign it.

Notable events

Belgian Royalty
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Coats of arms of Belgium Government.svg

Leopold I
   Crown Prince Louis-Philippe
   Leopold II
   Philippe, Count of Flanders
   Charlotte, Empress of Mexico
   Prince Baudouin
   Princess Josephine Marie
   Princess Henriette, Duchess of Vendome and Alencon
   Josephine Caroline, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
   Albert I
Leopold II
   Louise-Marie, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
   Leopold, Duke of Brabant
   Stéphanie, Crown Princess of Austria
   Clémentine, Princess Napoléon
Albert I
   Leopold III
   Prince Charles
   Marie-José, Queen of Italy
Leopold III
   Joséphine-Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
   Albert II
   Prince Alexander
   Princess Marie-Christine
   Princess Maria-Esmeralda
Albert II
   Philippe, Duke of Brabant
   Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
   Prince Laurent
   Princess Elisabeth
   Prince Gabriel
   Prince Emmanuel
   Princess Eléonore
   Princess Louise
   Prince Nicolas
   Prince Aymeric

During Baudouin's reign the colony of Belgian Congo was given its independence, and the King personally attended the festivities; he gave a speech that was widely seen as insensitive to the atrocities in the Congo, and the speech received a blistering response by Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba,[1] who shortly thereafter was assassinated with Belgian and US support.

In 1976, on the 25th anniversary of Baudouin's accession, the King Baudouin Foundation was formed, with the aim of improving the living conditions of the Belgian people.

Baudouin also made some visits to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, a family friend of his Queen, Fabiola.

He was the 1,176th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain in 1960 and the 930th Knight of the Order of the Garter.

In 1985, he was presented with photographs taken during World War II by Glenn Kappelman, a member of the 106th Cavalry Group which had freed the Royal Family from German captivity in May 1945. Baudouin was fourteen years old at the time when the American soldiers learned that the family was being held at a villa near Strobl, Austria.[2]

Religious influences

Baudouin was a deeply religious Roman Catholic. Some thought after his accession to the throne that he wanted to abdicate, in order to become a priest. Royal advisers suggested at the time that the Belgian monarchy would probably not survive two abdications in a row. Through the influence of Leo Cardinal Suenens, Baudouin participated in the growing Catholic Charismatic Renewal and regularly went on pilgrimages to the French shrine of Paray-le-Monial.

In 1990, when a law submitted by Roger Lallemand and Lucienne Herman-Michielsens, liberalising Belgium's abortion laws, was approved by Parliament, he refused to give Royal Assent, an unprecedented act in Belgium. Royal Assent is without much significance per se since, as in most modern constitutional and popular monarchies, it has long been a formality. However, because of his religious convictions, Baudouin asked the Government to declare him temporarily unable to reign so that he could avoid signing the measure into law.[3] The Government under Wilfried Martens complied with his request on 4 April 1990. According to the provisions of the Belgian Constitution, in the event the King is temporarily unable to reign, the Government as a whole fulfills the role of Head of State. All members of the Government signed the bill, and the next day (5 April 1990) the Government declared that Baudouin was capable of reigning again. (It is a point of contention whether Baudouin abdicated for two days so as not to have to approve the law, while still allowing abortions to be legalised in Belgium, or whether he was merely suspended for the day.)

Death, succession, and legacy

Baudouin reigned for 42 years until dying of heart failure on 31 July 1993 in the Villa Astrida in Motril, in the south of Spain. His death was unexpected, and sent much of Belgium into a period of deep mourning. It was a mark of great affection and respect for King Baudouin that Queen Elizabeth II attended the funeral in person; by tradition the British monarch attends only those funerals which are of close family members (they were only third cousins) or such politicians as prime ministers who die while in office. He was returned to Brussels on 1 August 1993. King Baudouin was interred in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady, Laeken Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium.

Baudouin was succeeded by his younger brother, who became King Albert II.


16. Leopold I of Belgium
8. Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders
17. Princess Louise-Marie of Orléans
4. Albert I of Belgium
18. Charles Anthony, Prince of Hohenzollern
9. Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
19. Princess Josephine of Baden
2. Leopold III of Belgium
20. Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria
10. Duke Karl-Theodor in Bavaria
21. Princess Ludovika of Bavaria
5. Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria
22. Miguel of Portugal
11. Infanta Maria Josepha of Portugal
23. Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Baudouin of Belgium
24. Oscar I of Sweden
12. Oscar II of Sweden
25. Duchess Josephine of Leuchtenberg
6. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland
26. William, Duke of Nassau
13. Princess Sofia of Nassau
27. Princess Pauline of Württemberg
3. Princess Astrid of Sweden
28. Christian IX of Denmark
14. Frederick VIII of Denmark
29. Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel
7. Princess Ingeborg of Denmark
30. Charles XV of Sweden
15. Princess Louise of Sweden
31. Princess Louise of the Netherlands

See also

Monarchical styles of
King Baudouin of the Belgians
Coats of arms of Belgium Government.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sire


  1. ^, delivered 30 June 1960. Accessed 20 January 2009.
  2. ^ Glenn L. Kappelman (2003). Through My Sights: A Gunner's View of WWII. Sunflower Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 0970476418.  
  3. ^,9171,969868,00.html


  • A. Molitor, La fonction royale en Belgique, Brussels, 1979
  • J.Stengers, De koningen der Belgen. Van Leopold I tot Albert II, Leuven, 1997.
  • Kardinaal Suenens, Koning Boudewijn. Het getuigenis van een leven, Leuven, 1995.
  • Kerstrede 18.12.1975, (ed.V.Neels), Wij Boudewijn, Koning der Belgen. Het politiek, sociaal en moreel testament van een nobel vorst, deel II, Gent, 1996.
  • H. le Paige (dir.), Questions royales, Réflexions à propos de la mort d'un roi et sur la médiatisation de l'évènement, Brussels, 1994.
Baudouin of Belgium
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 7 September 1930 Died: 31 July 1993
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Leopold III
King of the Belgians
Succeeded by
Albert II
Royal titles
Preceded by
Duke of Brabant
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New creation
Count of Hainaut
Succeeded by
In disuse

External links


Simple English

King of the Belgians
King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola
Reign 17 July 1951-31 July 1993
Born 7 September 1930
Birthplace Laeken, Belgium
Died 31 July 1993, aged 62
Place of death Motril, Spain
Predecessor Leopold III
Successor Albert II
Consort Doña Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón
Royal House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Leopold III
Mother Astrid of Sweden

Baudouin I (French: Baudouin Albert Charles Léopold Axel Marie Gustave or Dutch: Boudewijn Albert Karel Leopold Axel Marie Gustaaf) (7 September 193031 July 1993) was the King of the Belgians from 1951 to 1993. He was the oldest son of King Leopold III (1901-1983) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905-1935).


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