Prince Philippe of Belgium
Who is he: Prince Philippe of Belgium, Duke of Brabant is the eldest son and heir apparent of Albert II, the current King of Belgium. Belgium's government is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Geographically comprised of approximately 12,000 square miles of territory in Western Europe, it has an estimated population of a little over 11,000,000 people. Its Gross Domestic Product is a little more than $42,000 per capita. Belgium has been known as the battleground of Europe, as many wars have been fought on Belgian lands, including various WW I and WWII theatres of operation. Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1830 and became an eager participant of the Industrial Revolution. Brussels, the home of the European Union and NATO, is Belgium's capital.
The second half of the 20th century saw a rise in internal conflicts between the Francophones and the Flemings due to political and cultural issues between the two groups. Ultimately, these conflicts could lead to a partitioning of the country. These and other difficulties will face Prince Philippe in the future on a day when he will eventually be seated on the throne. His background appears to have honed him for this future moment.
Background: Prince Philippe of Belgium was born on the 15th of April, 1960 at the Chateau de Belvedere, near Laeken, Belgium. The prince attended the Belgian Royal Military School, and in 1981 continued his education at the Oxford University's Trinity School. His graduate work was completed at Stanford University in California, US where he received his Master's degree in Political Science in 1985.
In 1980, prior to moving to California, Prince Philippe had his fighter's wings and his certificates as a commando and a parachutist bestowed upon him as a Second Lieutenant in the Military. After attending the special sessions at the Royal Higher Defence Institute, Philippe was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1989 and then to major general in the Land and Air Divisions of the Military, and was also promoted to rear admiral in the Naval Division. In 2001, Prince Philippe was well on his way to his future.
Prince Philippe married Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz on December 4, 1999. They first married in a civil wedding and then were again married in a religious ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint Michel, both in Brussels. Since that time, they have had four children: Princess Elisabeth Therese Marie Helene (born in 2001), Prince Gabriel Baudouin Charles Marie (born in 2003), Prince Emmanuel Guillaume Francois Marie (born in 2005) and Princess Eleonore Fabiola Victoria Anne Marie (born in 2008). The future will see each as heir apparent.
Prince Philippe is from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His father is Albert II of Belgium, and his mother is Paola Ruffo di Calabrio. Prince Philip's wife will be the first Belgian-born queen consort. A consort is one who shares in the feminine version of her husband's titles but holds no real power and has no ability to participate in military or political decisions. It is expected that she be accorded the same respect as the king. A queen regnant inherits the throne and has all of the rights, privileges and power of a monarch.