Philippe of Belgium

Philippe or Filip (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfi.lɪp], French pronunciation: [filip], Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria, French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie; 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 latter'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.

Philippe during a June 2019 WTO meeting
King of the Belgians
Reign21 July 2013 – present
PredecessorAlbert II
Heiress apparentElisabeth
Prime MinistersElio Di Rupo
Charles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Alexander De Croo
Born (1960-04-15) 15 April 1960
Belvédère Castle, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
Jonkvrouw Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz
(m. 1999)
  • Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
  • Prince Gabriel
  • Prince Emmanuel
  • Princess Eléonore
Dutch: Filip Leopold Lodewijk Maria
French: Philippe Léopold Louis Marie
German: Philipp Leopold Ludwig Maria
FatherAlbert II of Belgium
MotherPaola Ruffo di Calabria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early life

Philippe was born on 15 April 1960 during the reign of his uncle, King Baudouin of Belgium. 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 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.

He was born at the Belvédère Castle in Laeken north of Brussels. He was baptised one month later at the church of Saint Jacques-sur-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]


From 1978 to 1981, Philippe was educated at the Belgian Royal Military Academy in the 118th "Promotion Toutes Armes". On 26 September 1980, he was appointed second lieutenant and took the officer's oath.[3]

He 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.[3] 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, the prince 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.[3]


King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wave to the crowds in Brussels after Philippe's swearing in as 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: Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, and Princess Eléonore.

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, Philippe was appointed honorary chairman of the board of the Foreign Trade Agency, replacing the BFTB.[4]

In this capacity, Philippe has headed more than 60 economic missions.[5][6] Upon his accession as seventh King of the Belgians, this role was taken over by his sister Princess Astrid.


Philippe in Antwerp, 2013

King Albert II announced on 3 July 2013 that he would abdicate in favour of Philippe on 21 July 2013.[7] Approximately one hour after King Albert II's abdication, Prince Philippe was sworn in as King of the Belgians.[8] 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.[9] Political meetings with the King were moved from the Palace of Laeken to the Royal Palace of Brussels.[9] In May 2019, Philippe met with Vlaams Belang President Tom Van Grieken, the first time the party had received a royal audience.[9][10]

In 2020, Philippe announced regret for the "acts of violence and cruelty" committed in Belgian Congo.[9]

Military ranks

Philippe in 2008 as an Air Force major general.
  • 26 September 1980 – 21 March 1983:
    • Belgian Air Force, second lieutenant
    • Belgian Army, second lieutenant
    • Belgian Navy, no rank
  • 21 March 1983 – 1 December 1989:
    • Belgian Air Force, captain
    • Belgian Army, captain
    • Belgian Navy, no rank
  • 1 December 1989 – 5 April 2001:
    • Belgian Air Force, colonel
    • Belgian Army, colonel
    • Belgian Navy, no rank
  • 5 April 2001 – 25 March 2010:
    • Belgian Air Component, major general
    • Belgian Land Component, major general
    • Belgian Marine Component, divisional admiral
  • 15 March 2010 – 21 July 2013:
    • Belgian Air Component, lieutenant general
    • Belgian Land Component, lieutenant general
    • Belgian Marine Component, vice admiral
  • Since 21 July 2013 (oath as King):
    • Belgian Air Component, general
    • Belgian Land Component, general
    • Belgian Marine Component, admiral
Royal Military Academy Pilot wings Parachutist badge Commando badge
123rd TAW (1978–1981)9 July 198228 October 198217 December 1982

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Personal Standard of Philippe, King of the Belgians
  • 15 April 1960 – 9 August 1993: His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium
  • 9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013: His Royal Highness The Duke of Brabant
  • 21 July 2013 – present: His Majesty The King of the Belgians

National honours

Ribbon barHonourDate
Grand Master of the Order of Leopold21 July 2013
Grand Master of the Order of the African Star 21 July 2013
Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Lion 21 July 2013
Grand Master of the Order of the Crown 21 July 2013
Grand Master of the Order of Leopold II 21 July 2013

Foreign honours

Ribbon barCountryHonourDate
Austria Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece 29 November 2008[11]
ArgentinaGrand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín6 May 1994[11]
BoliviaGrand Cross of the Order of the Condor of the Andes9 September 1996[11]
DenmarkKnight of the Order of the Elephant28 May 2002[11][12]
FinlandGrand Cross of the Order of the White Rose30 March 2004[11]
FranceGrand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour6 February 2014
GermanyGrand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of Germany6 March 2016
GreeceGrand Cross of the Order of Honour1 February 2005[11]
HungaryGrand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary18 April 2008[11]
JapanGrand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum9 October 2016
JordanGrand Cordon with Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali18 May 2016
LuxembourgKnight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau15 March 1999[11]
NetherlandsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion28 November 2016
NetherlandsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau6 May 1993[11]
NetherlandsRecipient of the King Willem-Alexander Inauguration Medal30 April 2013
NorwayGrand Cross of the Order of St. Olav20 May 2003[11]
PolandKnight of the Order of the White Eagle13 October 2015
PolandGrand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland18 October 2004[11]
PortugalGrand Cross of the Order of Christ18 October 2005[11]
PortugalGrand Cross of the Order of Aviz18 September 1997
PortugalGrand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry22 October 2018
SpainKnight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic16 May 2000[11]
SwedenKnight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim7 May 2001[11]
SwedenRecipient of the 50th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf30 April 1996
SwedenRecipient of the 70th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf30 April 2016
TurkeyMember of the Order of the State of Republic of Turkey4 October 2015
Vatican CityKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre19 October 1995[11]


Coat of arms of Philippe of Belgium
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.[13][14] 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.[15] 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".[16]
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

  • Line of succession to the Belgian throne
  • Prince Philippe Fund



    1. J.M. (8 May 2001). "Le baptême en l'église royale..." (in French). Retrieved 11 December 2015.
    2. "Prince Philippe : la ligne du temps d'une vie passée devant les caméras". (in French). Retrieved 11 December 2015.
    3. "The Belgian Monarchy". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
    4. "The Belgian Monarchy". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
    5. Agence pour le Commerce extérieur, Missions antérieures Archived 10 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
    6. "Official Royal Website Archives". Archived from the original on 18 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
    7. Price, Matthew (3 July 2013). "Belgium's King Albert II announces abdication". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
    8. "Belgium's King Albert II gives up throne to son". CNN. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
    9. Moens, Barbara; Gijs, Camille (6 July 2020). "Of race and royalty: How the king surprised Belgium". Politico.
    10. "Belgian far-right leader in landmark audience with the king". The Public's Radio. Associated Press. 29 May 2019.
    11. "Biographies of Members of the Belgian Senate" (PDF). Belgian Senate. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
    12. "Modtagere af danske dekorationer". (in Danish). Retrieved 5 May 2019.
    13. "Le Moniteur belge". Retrieved 23 July 2019.
    14. "Royal Decree of July 12, 2019". Moniteur Belge. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
    15. Philippe, Koning der Belgen (12 July 2019). "Koninklijk besluit houdende vaststelling van het wapen van het Koninklijk Huis en van zijn leden" (PDF). Belgisch Staatsblad. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
    16. "Belgian royal coat of arms gets a 'modern' update". Brussel Times. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
    Philippe of Belgium
    Born: 15 April 1960
    Regnal titles
    Preceded by
    Albert II
    King of the Belgians
    Heir apparent:
    Belgian royalty
    Title last held by
    Duke of Brabant
    Succeeded by
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