King Albert II and Queen Paola

Albert II succeeded his childless older brother, Baudouin, upon the latter's death in 1993.  He would reign for 20 years, until his abdication on July 21, 2013. As a youth, Albert shared many of the traumatic experiences of his father, King Leopold III, and his brother Baudouin.  In 1959, Albert married an aristocratic Italian beauty, Paola Ruffo di Calabria.  They had three children, Philippe, the present King of the Belgians, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent. Unfortunately, the marriage of Albert and Paola quickly became marred by unhappiness and scandal.  Although the royal couple have been reconciled, rumors of past infidelity continue to haunt King Albert, as his alleged illegitimate daughter, Delphine Boël, has been suing for recognition in the Belgian courts. Politically, Albert faced many discouraging challenges throughout his reign. Belgian national unity continued to weaken, while Belgian society increasingly abandoned traditional religious and moral principles. Unlike his brother Baudouin, who abdicated for a day to avoid signing an abortion law, Albert was much more compliant with all the contemporary trends. In 2002, for instance, he assented to the decriminalization of euthanasia.  He grappled with a grave political crisis, which left the country unable to form a new government for 541 days in 2010-2011. On the whole, Albert was well-liked for his pragmatic approach, good humor and jovial manner. The following are a few of this blog's articles on Albert and Paola. 
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