King Leopold II and Queen Marie-Henriette

Leopold II, the eldest surviving son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie d'Orléans, succeeded his father, the founder of the Belgian royal dynasty, on December 17, 1865. Leopold II reigned until his death on December 17, 1909.  Ambitious, intensely interested in building a colonial empire for Belgium, he became notorious due to the cruel exploitation of the native population of the Congo Free State (1885-1908), a personal possession of the King prior to the territory's annexation by Belgium. Leopold was also known as a cold, unfaithful husband to his Queen, Marie-Henriette of Austria. As his only legitimate son died as a child, Leopold was succeeded upon his death by his nephew, King Albert I. The following articles provide more information on Leopold II and his family.