The succession to the Belgian throne (A 100 things #16)

Now that we’ve had a Belgian abdication, and a new King of the Belgians, it is time to look at the Belgian line of succession.

Unlike in the Netherlands, the line of succession does not change overly much when the monarch ascends to the throne – everybody else just takes one jump ahead in the line at the same time.

The Belgian throne goes through the male-line descendant from Leopold I until Albert II, with those that have asked permission from the monarch for their marriage. Since women were also included in the line from 1991 when Belgium abolished the Salic law in the succession, it was mentioned that the King had given permission for Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz to marry, and Princess Astrid and her descendants jumped in between Prince Philippe and Prince Laurent in the line.

(There are voices that say that it was done in this way as King Baudouin did not want Prince Laurent to be as close to the throne as he was before 1991.)

To avoid all the offspring of the daughters of Belgian kings also inheriting the rights to the throne suddenly, it was added a codicil that the change first went in effect with Prince Astrid and her offspring. By the time the change came about, Princess Astrid and Princess Marie-Laura were the two first women with rights to the Belgian throne. When Princess Maria Louisa was born in 1995, she was the first Belgian princess who was born with rights to the Belgian throne.

After 1991, women have equal rights as men to the throne,  and since last Sunday, 12 year old Princess Elisabeth has held the title the Duchess of Brabant and is the first in line.

Should the King die while she is still under the age of 18, and a minor, the Belgian government will approve a regent. (Although, for the Belgian government to agree on anything can take time, as we’ve seen in the past, so Elisabeth could well reach the age of 18 before that happens.)

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Abdication in Belgium (100 things #13)

Yesterday, King Albert II of the Belgians announced that he is abdicating. You can watch his speech in French in the YouTube video below. I’ve also been pondering a bit about this – I’m by no means a Belgium expert or follow the Belgian royals avidly, so feel free to chime in if you want.

2013 is really turning into the year of abdications, isn’t it? First the Netherlands, then the Emir of Qatar announces that he will be abdicating, and now the King of the Belgians follow suit.

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Things to see: The Royal Palace (100 things #6)

The Royal Palace in Brussels is open to the public, free of charge, during the summer until September. This was one of the things that weren’t mentioned on the list of things to do in Brussels – but I’m really glad we did.

We were actually looking for how to get into the underground parts of the city when we realized that the Royal palace was open, and free of charge.

They had put together an exhibit of “Faces” when we were there the first weekend of September, and there was also a science exhibit for kids.

Not that these things were strictly necessary – the rooms themselves are more than impressive, and it was cool to go from ball room to more personal-feeling sitting rooms and look around. (Yet, since the royals aren’t living there full time, I did not get the same feeling that I got at Alnwick Castle – that I was walking into someone’s home without permission.)

If you go to Brussels during the summer – check out the Palace. Well worth it, in my opinion, especially since it is free. Afterwards, check out the underground parts of the city next to it.

Book Review: A throne in Brussels

I picked A Throne in Brussels by Paul Belien up in London this summer. I have been fascinated with Belgium and the internal struggle there for a while, and finding this seemed a great way to get a bit more thorough into the subject.

The book deals with the history of the Belgian monarchy – and the consequences for the European Union if it should model itself on being as constructed as Belgium.

The first thing to note about this book, and to bring with into the reading of it, is that the author is quite pro-Flemish, is quite seemingly against unified Belgium, and thus also rather against the monarchy.

It starts with Leopold and his first wife, and what happened when she died – and Leopold was put into the monarch’s role in Belgium (with a large subsidy from the British government), and continues through the generations to today’s royal family.

If Belien is to be believed, the monarchs and politicians of Belgium have been a corrupt bunch through the ages. About the only passable one seems to have been Baudoin.

With all its foibles and possible flaws in objectivity, I still found it an interesting read from one of the sides, as it is well-written and compelling.

If anyone has any good books on Belgian history to recommend, I’m up for reading more.