Belgian Monarchy Family Tree


Hi! My name is Jack Rackam and today I’m
going to share with you the family tree of the Belgian monarchy. We’ll be looking at
one of the greatest villains in history as well as a king whose one decision nearly brought
his kingdom to civil war and his family’s surprising connection to the British Monarchs. [Intro] Prior to gaining independence, Belgium was
ruled for many years by Spain as part of the Spanish Netherlands, then Austria as part
of the Austrian Netherlands, and then by the Netherlands as part of, well, the Netherlands.
When Belgium declared independence in 1830, the idea of forming a republic was unpopular
given what had recently happened during the French Revolution, so they opted for a king,
namely Leopold I. Interestingly enough, Leopold I had been given the opportunity to become
King of Greece the very same year that Belgium broke off from the Netherlands, but he turned
down the offer. Leopold came from the house of Saxe-Coburg
and Gotha, which is the same royal house as the British family, thanks to Queen Victoria’s
marriage to a member of that house, Prince Albert. As a matter of fact, that marriage
was in large part thanks to Leopold I. But of course the British royal family is commonly
known as the House of Windsor ever since WWI when they wanted to downplay their German
heritage. Another close connection, before Leopold was
King, he married Princess Charlotte, daughter of the then King of the United Kingdom George
IV. She and Leopold had a son, who was to be heir apparent to the British Empire, but
he was stillborn. What’s more, Charlotte died soon afterwards as a result of complications
following the birth. This led to quite a tense situation in Britain as although George IV
had two brothers, neither he nor they had any children to pass the crown to, until of
course, there was Victoria. But if you want to know more about the House of Saxe-Coburg
and Gotha in England, there’s a different video for that on this channel. After Leopold became King, he married Princess
Louise, who was the daughter of King Louis Philippe of France, so you can see he has
connections to the French Royal Family as well as the British. Leopold I died in 1865 and was succeeded by
his son Leopold II. He’s actually remembered less for ruling Belgium and more for ruling
the Congo, which he owned personally and independently of the Belgian government. The country was
given to him 1885 after the major powers of Europe met in Berlin to discuss which nations
would control which parts of the continent. There was disagreement over who would control
the Congo, and thus it was given to Leopold II as a neutral third party, under the condition
that he worked to improve the living conditions of the people living there. But Leopold ignored
those terms and ran it with the express purpose of extracting as much wealth from the country
as possible, primarily in the form of rubber. His reign was ultimately responsible for the
deaths of approximately ten million people. He had a son, who would have been Leopold
III, but he died of pneumonia as a child. Leopold II had three other legitimate children,
but they were all daughters and Belgium, like many other monarchies at the time followed
male-only primogeniture, meaning they were all ineligible for the throne. Instead, his successor was his nephew, Albert
I. Albert inherited the Congo as well, but as a colony of Belgium, and not in a personal
union. He was king of Belgium during WWI, and had pledged to be neutral in the war,
refusing to allow the German army to pass through his country to attack France. In response,
Germany invaded Belgium, which brought Britain into the war, and continued to march towards
France. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II occupied the vast majority of Belgium, but Albert remained
in control of the Belgian Army for the duration of the war. His son Leopold, who had served as a private
in the war when he was only 14, ascended to the throne as Leopold III in 1934, and married
the Swedish Princess Astrid, forming a close connection to the Swedish crown in addition
to the French and British. He is a controversial figure in Belgium, because when Germany invaded
in WWII, he did take charge of the army as his father had done or flee the country like
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, but he instead chose to surrender to the Nazis. He
did not rule on their behalf, however, and was held in Germany as a prisoner. After the war, he was not allowed to return
to his home country for several years. Eventually a referendum was held which permitted him
to once again take up his position as king, but it passed only by a narrow margin. What’s
more, the votes were cast largely along the lines of the Dutch speaking northern part
of the country who favored his return and the French speaking southern part of the country
who opposed it. Tensions between the two ran so high that soon he had no other choice but
to abdicate in favor of his son Baudouin to avoid the possibility of civil war. Before touching on Baudouin I’d quickly
like to mention another of Leopold III’s children, Josephine-Charlotte, who married
into the Royal family of Luxembourg, so there’s another connection right there. Baudouin’s reign saw the Congo become independent,
with tensions between Belgium and its former colony remaining high. The Congolese Prime
Minister Patrice Lumumba famously gave a sharp rebuke of a speech made by Baudouin arguing
that Belgium had successfully civilized the Congo and its people. Baudouin supported the
secession of an important province of the Congo and Lemumba was killed less than a year
later. While it’s possible the King may not have
ordered his death, it’s very likely he was aware of the danger to Lumumba’s life posed
by attempts to arrest him and made no attempts to avert his death. Later, it was revealed
that the US had authorized his death but hadn’t carried out the attack, and a British MI6
agent claimed shortly before her death that she had organized his abduction and murder.
In 2002, Belgium formally apologized to the Congolese people for its actions. Baudouin had no children, and so the crown
passed to Albert II. Like many contemporary constitutional monarchs, his role was largely
ceremonial. He abdicated for health reasons in 2013, the same year as Pope Benedict XVI,
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Emir Hamad of Qatar. Which brings us to the current king of Belgium,
Albert II’s son Philippe. He has four children, the oldest of whom, Elisabeth, is expected
to receive the crown after him, since Belgium adopted absolute primogeniture in 1992, meaning
no preference is given to male or female relatives. Okay, that was the Belgian Royal family. As
always, if you enjoyed this video it would be a great help for the channel if you gave
it a thumbs up, and if you’d like a copy of the complete Western European Royal Family
Trees Chart, you can find it at usefulcharts.com or in the description below. Thanks for watching!

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