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In the United Kingdom, you can’t go a day or two without hearing some news or palace intrigue about the royal family.   Sometimes, it’s enough to tear your hair out an go, “enough already.”  Yet, for the two years I lived in Belgium, and the three years that followed in The Netherlands, I hardly ever heard or saw anything about the Belgian royal family.  In Holland, at least, I was at least aware that Beatrix sat on the throne.  Plus, there was that mildly funny incident where Prince Claus denounced neck ties during a press conference.  Yet, honestly, in my time in Europe, I never heard anything about the Belgian royal family.  And I didn’t even know who was King until five minutes ago, when I typed “King of the Belgians” into Google.”  So, when I lived there Baudouin I ruled, and after I left Europe altogether, Albert II ascended in 1993.  Like other European nations, Belgian is a constitutional monarchy, with the King sitting more as a figurehead, as Parliament and the Prime Minister do most of the governing.  According to Hutchinson Encyclopedia:

A staunch Catholic and a man of high principles, Baudouin abdicated for one day 1990 rather than sign a government bill legalizing abortion.

Part of his childhood was spent under German occupation. His father, seen by some as a Nazi appeaser, abdicated in favour of his son, but was still widely believed to be the power behind the throne.
Naturally self-effacing and living much of his life in the shadow of his much-criticized father, Baudouin was a reluctant monarch who would have preferred a private existence, but who eventually won his people’s trust and affection through his transparent honesty and integrity.



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