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Princess Elenore, Prince Gabriel, queen Mathilde, King Philippe, Princess Elisabeth and Prince Emmanuel at a service© BENOIT DOPPAGNE

Inside the Belgian royal family tree – the House of Belgium explained

Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy since its founding in 1830

Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
June 25, 2024
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Belgium is a relatively young country, being founded in 1830 after becoming independent from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since its founding, Belgium has been ruled by a constitutional monarchy, initially hailing from the House of Saxe-Coburg, this was changed to the House of Belgium in 1920.

Although a constitutional role, the King of the Belgians has occasionally been seen as a political figure, with King Leopold I being named the head of Foreign Affairs, while King Leopold II was known to have public disagreements with the government. The current monarch is allowed to advise the government and it was only in 2014 that the children of a monarch were stripped of their right to a seat in the Senate.

The current line of Belgian royals are not directly descended from Leopold I, the original King of the Belgians, after Leopold II died without a direct heir. Instead, the monarchy currently descends from King Albert I, who was the nephew of Leopold II.

Unlike other monarchies, a new ruler does not ascend to the throne immediately after the death or abdication of the previous one, instead only becoming the monarch following a constitutional oath, which is required to take place within ten days of the throne becoming vacant.

Read on to find out all you need to know about the members of the House of Belgium…

Family tree

The Belgian royal family tree© HELLO!
The Belgian royal family tree

King Albert II

King Albert in a suit© Patrick van Katwijk
Albert abdicated in 2013

Born on 6 June 1934, Albert was the King of the Belgians from 9 August 1993 until he abdicated on 21 July 2013. During his youth, tragedy hit Albert and his family when his mother, Princess Astrid, was killed in a car accident when the royal was just one.

Albert was initially evacuated from Belgium when Germany invaded during World War II, however, he returned to his homeland where he and the rest of the Belgian royal family were held captives. They were transferred to Austria during the latter stages of the war, before being freed by an American regiment. Albert would return to his homeland in 1950 after completing his studies in Geneva.

In 1958, Albert was alongside his family when they went to witness the coronation of Pope John XXIII, and during a reception at the Belgian embassy he met Paola Ruffo di Calabria and the pair married a year later, before welcoming three children: King Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. In 1997, it was reported that Albert had fathered a daughter, Delphine, with Belgian noblewoman Sybille de Selys Longchamps, a claim that was only confirmed on 27 January 2020 following a legal case in which Albert submitted his DNA – months later, Delphine would join the royal family and become known as a Princess.

Albert became heir presumptive on 17 July 1951 when his older brother, Baudouin, ascended to the throne. Sadly, Baudouin's wife, Queen Fabiola, miscarried during all five of her pregnancies so when Baudouin died without issue in 1993, Albert succeeded him nine days later. 

On 3 July 2013, Albert indicated to the Belgian parliament that he intended to abdicate, citing health reasons, although the monarch's decision came days after his children were summoned to court during a case brought against him by Delphine's mother. He officially abdicated from the throne on 21 July 2013.

Queen Paola

Queen Paola in a black dress and large necklace© Photonews
Queen Paola was the Queen of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013

Born as Paola Ruffo di Calabria on 11 September 1937, Queen Paola is the wife of King Albert and was the Queen of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013. Born in Italy, Paola met her future husband at a party at the Belgian embassy following the coronation of Pope John XXII.

They married a year after meeting and welcomed three children: King Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. Paola became aware of Albert's affair with Sybille de Selys Longchamps and although she initiated divorce proceedings, the pair reconciled and remain married.

Some media outlets have speculated that the Queen has suffered from strokes during her lifetime, however, the Palace has never officially confirmed this. However, Paola has been treated for cardiac arrhythmia and has suffered two falls, most recently in 2022 which resulted in a broken arm.

King Philippe

King Philippe in a black tuxedo© Patrick van Katwijk
Philippe is the current King of the Belgians

Born on 15 April 1960, Philippe is the current King of the Belgians, ascending to the throne following his father's abdication on 21 July 2013. Much like King Charles of Britain, Philippe had a difficult education, moving from a French-speaking school to one in Flanders where he reportedly struggled to make friends.

Philippe became the heir apparent following the death of his uncle, King Baudouin. Ahead of his ascension to the throne, the royal served as the honorary chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board, a role that would go to his younger sister when he became King.

On 4 December 1999, Philippe walked down the aisle with Belgian noblewoman Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz and the pair welcomed four children: Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emannuel and Princess Eleonore.

Although Belgian custom allows there to be a ten-day grace period before the accession of a new monarch, following his father's abdication on 21 July 2013, Philippe was sworn in as King of the Belgians just an hour later.

Queen Mathilde

Queen Mathilde waving as she gets into a car© Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Mathilde married Philippe in 1999

Born as Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz on 20 January 1973, Mathilde is the current Queen of the Belgians following her husband King Philippe's accession to the throne on 21 July 2013. Ahead of her meeting Philippe, Mathilde had studied and worked as a speech therapist.

On 4 December 1999, Mathilde and Philippe married and the pair have subsequently welcomed four children: Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eleonore.

Mathilde has been active on social issues within the country, focusing on issues like poverty, education and feminist causes. The Queen has also worked with UNICEF Belgium and the World Health Organisation and is the founder of the Queen Mathilde Fund which promotes the care of vulnerable people in various categories.

Princess Astrid

Princess Astrid in a pink dress© Olivier Matthys
Astrid was named after her late grandmother

Born on 5 June 1962, Princess Astrid is the younger sister of King Philippe and is fifth in line to the throne. Astrid was named after her grandmother, who sadly died at the age of 29 in a car accident.

In her royal role, Astrid has been the president of the Belgian Red Cross, has served on the honorary board of the International Paralympic Committee and runs the Prince Albert Trust, succeeding her father, King Albert. Like the late Princess Diana, the royal is also an advocate for those affected by landmines.

On 22 September 1984, Astrid married Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, who at that point was the heir to the House of Austria-Este, a noble house from Austria. The couple have since welcomed five children: Prince Amadeo, Princess Maria Laura, Prince Joachim, Princess Luisa and Princess Laetitia.

Prince Lorenz

Prince Lorenz in a black suit© Olivier Matthys
Lorenz is also the head of the House of Austria-Este

Born on 16 December 1955, Prince Lorenz is the husband of Princess Astrid and took a princely title as opposed to his Archduke title upon his marriage to Astrid in 1984.

Lorenz was born into the House of Austria-Este, and currently serves as its Head, which traces its roots back to the Habsburg family which previously had rulers in Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Lorenz's grandfather, Charles I, was the final Emperor of Austria.

With Astrid, Lorenz is a father to Prince Amadeo, Princess Maria Laura, Prince Joachim, Princess Luisa and Princess Laetitia.

Prince Laurent

Prince Laurent sitting in military uniform© Patrick van Katwijk
Laurent was implicated in a corruption scandal

Born on 19 October 1963, Prince Laurent is the youngest child of King Albert and Queen Paola and is currently fourteenth in line to the throne. Although other royal families, like the British one, didn't apply changes to their primogeniture laws retroactively, Belgium did, meaning that Laurent fell below his older sister and her children in the line of succession.

Like Britain's King Charles, Laurent takes a keen interest in wildlife and the environment, but due to some gaffes, he has been referred to as 'the eco-blunderer' by press outlets. In 2006, the royal became implicated in a corruption scandal over the funding of his royal residence, and he was interrogated by police and testified in court the following year.

Laurent was hospitalised in March 2014 due to pneumonia and depression and was even placed in a medically-induced coma for two days.

On 12 April 2003, he married Princess Claire and the pair have welcomed three children: Princess Louise and twins Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric.

Princess Claire

Princess Claire walking with Prince Laurent© Olivier Matthys
Princess Claire doesn't make many public appearances

Born on 18 January 1974 as Claire Coombs, Princess Claire is the wife of Prince Laurent, with the pair walking down the aisle on 12 April 2003. They share a daughter Princess Louise and twin sons Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric.

Claire doesn't appear as often as other Belgian royals, although the British-born royal is often seen alongside her husband at official events.

Princess Delphine

Princess Delphine sitting with husband James O'Hare© Thierry Monasse
Delphine wasn't discovered to be Albert's daughter until 2020

Born on 22 February 1968, Princess Delphine is the daughter of King Albert and Belgian noblewoman Sybille de Selys Longchamps, although her true paternity wasn't uncovered until Albert submitted a DNA sample in 2020. Once it was confirmed she was his daughter, Albert welcomed her with open arms, however although she carries a royal title, Delphine and her descendants are not in the line of succession.

Delphine has pursued a career in the arts and charity sectors and founded the Princess Delphine of Saxe-Coburg Fund, which promotes the use of art in healthcare. She has also designed the Ageless Love sculpture which is displayed in the Gerdapark.

In 2003, Delphine married American businessman James O'Hare. The pair share two children: Princess Josephine (b. 2003) and Prince Oscar (b. 2008). 

Princess Elisabeth

Princess Elisabeth walking through a hospital© Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Elisabeth will be the first Queen Regnant of Belgium

Born on 25 October 2001, Princess Elisabeth is the eldest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and is the heir apparent to the Belgian throne. If she succeeds her father, Elisabeth will become Belgium's first Queen Regnant.

The heir to the throne initially studied at St John Berchmans College and she later studied at UWC Atlantic College in Wales, a favourite among the young European royal families. While studying at the institute, she used the surname de Brabant, a reference to her being the Duchess of Brabant.

After her education, Elisabeth joined the Belgian military and currently has the rank of second lieutenant. In 2024, it was confirmed that the young royal would begin studying at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is pursuing a masters in public policy.

Prince Gabriel

Prince Gabriel in a suit and tie© Patrick van Katwijk
Gabriel is studying at the Royal Military Academy of Belgium

Born on 20 August 2003, Prince Gabriel is the second child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and is currently second in line to the throne. For his education, Gabriel has studied at St John Berchmans College, the International School of Brussels and The National Mathematics and Science College in Warwickshire. He currently attends the Royal Military Academy of Belgium.

Prince Emmanuel

Princess Elisabeth with her brother Prince Emmanuel© Olivier Matthys
Prince Emmanuel is dyslexic

Born on 4 October 2005, Prince Emmanuel is the third child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and is third in line to the throne. Emmanuel has studied at St John Berchmans College and the Eureka special school which specifically caters to children with dyslexia. He currently studies at the International School of Brussels.

Princess Eleonore

Princess Eleonore in a blue dress© Patrick van Katwijk
Eleonore is the youngest child of King Philippe

Born on 16 April 2008, Princess Eleonore is the youngest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and is fourth in line to the Belgian throne. The young royal has studied at Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege and currently studies at the Heilig Hart College.

Prince Amedeo

Prince Amedeo and wife Lili holding a baby© Patrick van Katwijk
Prince Amedeo and wife Lili have welcomed three children

Born on 21 February 1986, Prince Amedeo is the oldest child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz and is sixth in line to the throne and the heir apparent to the House of Austria-Este. When he was born, Amedeo wasn't in line to the Belgian throne, owing to the primogeniture rules in place at the time, he took his place in the line of succession in 1991.

Amedeo studied at Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege, but he also completed parts of his education in the UK, studying in Sevenoaks and at the London School of Economics. Following his education, the royal began working at Deloitte and he currently works at the Gutzwiller private bank.

On 5 July 2014, Amedeo walked down the aisle with Italian journalist Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein, who was a member of the House of Caracciolo, an Italian noble house. The couple share three children: Archduchess Anna (b. 2016), Archduke Maximilian (b. 2019) and Archduchess Alix (b. 2023). Amedeo's children are seventh, eighth and ninth in line to the throne respectively.

Princess Maria Laura

Princess Maria Laura at a mass service© Olivier Matthys
Princess Maria Laura married in 2022

Born on 26 August 1988, Princess Maria Laura is the second child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz and is tenth in line to the throne. Maria Laura had an eventful education, reportedly being teased in her youth and in 2005, her school bus was involved in an accident, although she escaped unscathed.

On 10 September, 2022, Maria Laura walked down the aisle with asset manager William Isvy. The bride wore a stunning flowing gown for her nuptials.

Prince Joachim

Prince Joachim of Belgium in a black suit© Niviere David/ABACAPRESS.COM/Shutterstock
Prince Joachim graduated from Harvard

Born on 9 December 1991, Prince Joachim is the third child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz and was the first of their children to be born with a royal title; he is eleventh in line to the throne

Joachim studied at the Harvard Business School and graduated in 2021. However, in 2020, the royal was forced to apologise after breaking Spanish coronavirus restrictions while in the country, being fined €10,400.

Princess Luisa Maria

Princess Luisa Maria at a mass service© Olivier Matthys
Princess Luisa studied in Canada

Born on 11 October 1995, Princess Luisa Maria is the fourth child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz and is twelfth in line to the throne. The young royal typically stays out of the spotlight, but it's believed that she studied at McGill University in Canada.

Princess Laetitia

Princess Laetitia (right) is the youngest child of Astrid and Lorenz© Patrick van Katwijk
Princess Laetitia (right) is the youngest child of Astrid and Lorenz

Born on 23 April 2003, Princess Laetitia is the youngest child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz is thirteenth in line to the throne. Like many members of her family, Laetitia has been educated in both Belgium and the UK and she studied at a boarding school in Bromsgrove.

Princess Louise

Princess Louise with her father Prince Laurent© Laurie Dieffembacq/Belga via ZUMA Press/Shutterstock
Princess Louise is the eldest child of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire

Born on 6 February 2004, Princess Louise is the oldest child of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire and is fifteenth in line to the throne. Louise often keeps out of the spotlight and currently studies at the Lycee Francais.

Prince Nicolas

Prince Nicolas in a suit© Shutterstock
Nicolas is sixteenth in line to the throne

Born on 13 December 2005, Prince Nicolas is the second child of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire. He is also the twin brother of Prince Aymeric and is sixteenth in line to the throne. The young royal typically stays out of the spotlight, but in 2023 he joined his grandmother marking an anniversary of the Marcinelle mining disaster.

Prince Aymeric

Prince Aymeric in a suit and spotted tie© Shutterstock
Prince Aymeric doesn't often appear in public

Born on 13 December 2005, Prince Aymeric is the third child of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire. He is the twin brother of Prince Nicolas and is seventeenth in line to the throne. Aymeric is rarely seen in public, but HELLO!'s sister publication, HOLA! reports that the young royal is dating a girl by the name of Gersende.

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Line of succession

  1. Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
  2. Prince Gabriel
  3. Prince Emmanuel
  4. Princess Eleonore
  5. Princess Astrid
  6. Prince Amedeo
  7. Archduchess Anna Astrid
  8. Archduke Maximilian
  9. Archduchess Alix
  10. Princess Maria Laura
  11. Prince Joachim
  12. Princess Luisa
  13. Princess Laetitia
  14. Prince Laurent
  15. Princess Louise
  16. Prince Nicolas
  17. Prince Aymeric

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