Queen Elisabeth of Belgium

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Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, great-grandmother of King Philippe, was born on this day in 1876, as Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, named after her famous aunt, Empress Elisabeth ‘Sissi’ of Austria. In 1900, she married Crown Prince Albert of Belgium. The couple had three children, including Queen Marie Jose of Italy, and became King and Queen in 1909. Working with nurses during WWI, she established the Queen Elisabeth Medical Foundation in Belgium to help those who could not afford medical care. Passionate about music, she was also one of the founding members and patrons of the Queen Elisabeth Violin competition. Queen Elisabeth initially retired from public duties after being widowed in 1934, but returned after the tragic death of her daughter-in-law, Queen Astrid, in 1935. She remained the ‘First Lady’ of Belgium until 1960, when her grandson got married, known as the ‘Red Queen’ in her later years, after visiting several communist countries. Dowager Queen Elisabeth died in November 1965, aged 89.

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One thought on “Queen Elisabeth of Belgium

  1. She was a very elegant lady, and quite formidable. Isn’t it interesting that she was considered the “first lady” of Belgium until king Baudouin married, even though King Leopold III was married to Princess Lilian since 1941 and didn’t abdicate until 1951. The whole “Princess Lillian” thing is very interesting too. She should have been called Queen Lilian, being married to King Leopold III, but here we have a similar situation to the Duchess of Cornwall usage (instead of the Princess of Wales which should be her primary title). The late Queen Astrid was so beloved that I guess King Leopold didn’t want to give his second wife the same rank for fear of offending. In Leopold’s case it’s even more remarkable since Princess Lillian was never associated with Queen Astrid nor did she interfere in their marriage in any way. This situation came to a head during Princess Josephine Charlotte’s wedding where there was quite a to do regarding order of precedence in the procession, and I think Queen Elisabeth won that one!

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