Monday, July 13, 2009

Prince Philippe of Belgium, Duke of Brabant

Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, is the eldest son and heir of Belgium's reigning monarchs, King Albert II and Queen Paola. He was born April 15, 1960, in Brussels. After completing secondary school (in both Belgium's national languages, French and Dutch), he attended the Royal Military Academy. He graduated in 1981, later qualifying as a fighter pilot and as a paratrooper and commando officer. In 2001, he attained the rank of Major General in the Armed Forces. He has certainly had a thorough military training, in the tradition of Belgian kings. Prince Philippe also attended university in the UK, at Trinity College, Oxford, and, in the USA, at the Stanford Graduate School. In 1985, he obtained his MA in political science. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

On August 6, 1993, the Belgian government appointed Prince Philippe Honorary Chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board (BFTB). In this capacity, Prince Philippe has headed more than forty important economic missions throughout the world. In 1994, he entered the Belgian Senate, as senator by right (a privilege of the royal princes). In 1997, he became honorary chairman of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development. In 2003, he assumed leadership of the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries. Since 2004, he also heads the European Chapter of the International Polar Foundation.

On December 4, 1999, Prince Philippe married the lovely and elegant Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz, a young noblewoman of mixed Belgian and Polish descent. Princess Mathilde, a speech therapist by profession, is popular and warm, definitely in the tradition of beautiful and altruistic Belgian royal consorts . The couple have four children: Elisabeth (b. 2001), Gabriel (b. 2003), Emmanuel (b. 2005), and Eleonore (b. 2008). It seems to be a very happy family.

Prince Philippe is keenly concerned with the problems of modern society, and takes a special interest in poverty, unemployment, youth and education. Belgium's national unity is also close to his heart. In 1998, the Prince Philippe Fund was established to foster exchange and promote understanding between the country's three ethnolinguistic communities (French, Dutch, and German-speaking).

In recent years, the Prince has been attacked in the media. His conservative political and social views are criticized, with some even suggesting a more liberal candidate should take the throne. Others claim the Prince is stiff and awkward. In my opinion, however, his conservatism is a good thing and if his supposed "stiffness" (more likely old-fashioned formality and rigor) is all his detractors can accuse him of, his people are lucky. Belgium ought to be grateful to have such a serious, dedicated, and upright royal heir.


MadMonarchist said...

I'm a big fan of Prince Philippe. Of course I don't know much about what he's 'really' like but from what I have heard he seems like just the sort of modern royal to admire; though some of the things that make him a good choice to me will cause him to be criticized by others. As far as his "wooden" persona I have often defended the Prince by saying what is stiff and wooden to one person is regal and dignified to another. He seems a dutiful man, a religious man, takes his role seriously and he has a beautiful family. I'm all for him.

Anonymous said...

I love reading about Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde. They do seem like honorable people, worthy of emulation!