Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Death of King Baudouin of Belgium, who passed away on this day in 1993! The accomplished Belgian King came to the Throne at the age of 20 in the midst of political turmoil and reigned through four decades of immense societal change.
The elder son of King Leopold III of Belgium and Princess Astrid of Sweden, he was the brother of Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg and King Albert II of Belgium in addition to being the nephew of Queen Marie José of Italy and Crown Princess Martha of Norway as well as the first cousin of King Harald V of Norway. Born during the reign of his grandfather, King Albert I, Prince Baudouin became Crown Prince in 1934, losing his mother in a tragic car crash the following year.
During the German Occupation of Belgium in the Second World War, the Royal Family was kept under house arrest at the Palace of Laeken, and was later sent to Germany and Austria, spending time in Switzerland after being liberated since they were not allowed to return to Belgium.
The Royal Family were exiled because of the tense political situation in Belgium and the King’s controversial role during the Second World War. Not long after their return to Belgium, King Leopold III abdicated and King Baudouin succeeded to the Belgian Throne in the midst of political turmoil, with the most delicate matter being when the King attended the Independence of the Belgian Colony of Congo in 1960.
In 1960, King Baudouin married the Spanish Aristocrat Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón, but the couple were unable to have surviving children and he was eventually succeeded by his younger brother, King Albert II, while guiding his nephew, the now King Philippe.
To mark his Silver Jubilee in 1976, the King set up the King Baudouin Foundation which seeks to change society for the better and invests in inspiring projects and individuals. Due to his strong religious views and the couple’s lack of children, King Baudouin refused to give Royal Assent to a Bill legalizing Abortion in 1990, being declared temporarily unable to reign for 36 hours so that he could avoid signing the measure into law. King Baudouin reigned for over 42 years, and soon after Belgian National Day Celebrations in 1993, passed away of heart failure at his summer home in Spain. Queen Fabiola died in 2013.
Royal Guests from around the world attended King Baudouin’s Funeral, including Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg (sister), Queen Elizabeth II (her only foreign royal funeral) and the Duke of Edinburgh, King Harald V (cousin) and Queen Sonja of Norway, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the Prince of Orange, and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.