Baudouin of Belgium
Learn more about Baudouin of Belgium
|King of the Belgians|
|Image:Mon his boudewijn high.jpg|
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|Reign||16 July, 1951-31 July, 1993|
|Born||7 September, 1930|
|Died||31 July 1993|
|Consort||Doña Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón|
|Mother||Astrid of Sweden|
Baudouin I, King of the Belgians, (Baudouin/Boudewijn Albert Charles Léopold Axel Marie Gustave) (7 September, 1930 – 31 July, 1993), reigned as King of the Belgians from 1951 to 1993. He was the eldest son of King Leopold III (1901-1983) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905-1935). Baudouin is the French form of his name, which is also mostly used outside of Belgium; his Dutch name is Boudewijn. Occasionally his name is anglicized as Baldwin.
 Ascent to the throne
Baudouin was born in Kasteel Stuyvenberg, Laeken in Belgium. He ascended the throne when his father King Leopold III abdicated on July 16, 1951. 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 his decision to surrender to Nazi Germany during World War II, when Belgium was invaded in 1940; many Belgians still questioned his loyalties, though a commission of inquiry exonerated him of treason after World War II. Though reinstated in a plebiscite, the controversy surrounding Léopold led to his abdication.
 Love and Marriage
On December 15, 1960, Baudouin was married in Brussels to Doña Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón, a former nurse and a writer of children's stories. Queen Fabiola is immensely popular for her good cheer, personal modesty, and devotion to social causes. The Belgian royal couple were unable to conceive, and had no children. This 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.
There was some concern among politicians close to the King that he might actually be in love with his stepmother, Princess Lilian, suspicions fueled by secret recordings of surprisingly intimate-sounding telephone conversations between the two. The post-wedding actions of the king's father and stepmother only increased speculation; they briskly moved out of the royal palace at Laeken and reportedly broke off relations with Baudouin for some time.
 Notable events
During Baudouin's reign the colony of Belgian Congo was given its independence, and the King personally attended the festivities - giving a speech that was widely seen as insensitive to the atrocities in the Congo which received a blistering response by Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. 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 leader Francisco Franco, a family friend of his wife, Fabiola.
 Religious influences
Baudouin was a very religious man. It was widely thought after his accession to the throne, that he wanted to abdicate, in order to become a priest. Royal advisers indicated at the time, that the Belgian monarchy would not likely survive two abdications in a row. Through the influence of Belgian Cardinal Leo Suenens, Baudoin participated in the growing Catholic charismatic movement, and regularly went on pilgrimages to the French shrine of Paray-le-Monial. In 1990, when a law liberalising Belgium's abortion laws was approved by Parliament, he refused to give Royal Assent, an unprecedented act since the King's assent was a largely ceremonial act which had always been a forgone conclusion. The Government declared him unable to reign on April 4, 1990. The Belgian Constitution provides that, if the King is incapable of reigning, the Government as a whole will fulfil the role of Head of State. All members of the Government signed the bill, and the Government declared that Baudouin was capable of reigning again the next day, on April 5, 1990. (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 and succession
He reigned for 42 years until he died of heart failure on July 31, 1993 in the Villa Astrida in Motril, in the south of Spain. His death was very unexpected, and sent much of Belgium into a period of deep mourning.
He 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.
- In 2005 he was nominated for the title of De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish version he came in 16th. The Walloon version made him 2nd.
| House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
Born: 7 September 1930; Died: 31 July 1993
Leopold III of Belgium
|King of the Belgians|
|Duke of Brabant|
Title next held by
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