This week I would like to delve a little deeper into Belgian’s political system. I know this sounds boring, but really I just want to tell you all about the royal family and it’s history!
At the present, Belgium is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy. Quite the mouthful isn’t it? What is means is that the country is run by a multi-party system, with the Prime Minister as the head of state. The Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo is comparable to our version of President Obama. The multi-party system is comparable to the republican and democratic parties of the United States, however Belgium has over 40 different parties! For every type of party, whether it is the Christian Liberals or whatever else, there is a Dutch speaking and French speaking party.
King Philippe is considered the king of Belgians, not of Belgium. This means that he is ruler of the people, but not of the land of Belgium. His role is mostly as a figurehead. The monarchy remains in place mostly out of tradition.King Philippe was crowned king in July of this year when his father, King Albert II, abdicated the thrown. This means that he no longer wanted to be king, so stepped down to let his eldest son take over.
The royal family currently lives in the Royal Castle of Laeken, which is just outside of Brussels, Belgium.
The history of the Belgian monarchy started with the crowning of King Leopold I when Belgium became a country in 1830. He was chosen as king because of his family’s relations to royalty throughout Europe. For example, his brother was father to Prince Albert, whom married Queen Victoria of England and Ireland. Another of his brothers was father to Ferdinand II of Portugal. As you can see, Leopold was from a family known for their royal connections. After king Leopold I, the Belgians were ruled by a string of sons from each new generation. The order of kings is: Leopold I, Leopold II, Albert I, Leopold III, Charles (who was only a temporary ruler while his brother, Leopold III was away), Baudoiun, Albert II, and finally King Philippe. Due to Belgium’s short history as a country, there have only been eight kings to rule its people. Next in line after King Philippe is his eldest daughter Elisabeth. If she is the next appointed, she will be the first female head of the Belgians. Could you imagine being the heir to the throne of Belgium at your age? That would be a lot of pressure!
What have you learned about monarchies in class? How do you think the United States would be different if we had a king or queen?
I hope you have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I would also like to mention that I got all of these picture online, I have yet to see any of the royal family in Belgium!