Baudouin I of Belgium

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Baudouin I (Dutch: Boudewijn Albert Karel Leopold Axel Marie Gustaaf van België, French: Baudouin Albert Charles Léopold Axel Marie Gustave de Belgique) (7 September 1930 – 31 July 1993) reigned as King of the Belgians, following his father's abdication, from 1951 until his death in 1993. He was the eldest son of King Leopold III (1901–1983) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). Having had no children, the crown passed on to his brother, Albert II of Belgium, upon his death. He is the first cousin of King Harald V of Norway , Princess Astrid of Norway, and Princess Ragnhild of Norway. Baudouin is the French form of his name, the form most commonly used outside Belgium; his Dutch name is Boudewijn. Very rarely, his name is anglicized as Baldwin.

Contents

Ascent to the throne

Baudouin was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, near Laeken, Brussels, in Belgium. On 1 August 1950 his father King Leopold III requested the Belgian Government and the Parliament to approve a law delegating his royal powers to his son, Prince Baudouin, who took the constitutional oath before the United Chambers of the Belgian Parliament as Prince Royal on 11 August 1950. He ascended the throne and became the fifth King of the Belgians upon taking the constitutional oath on 17 July 1951, one day following his father's abdication.

The Congolese called the young king Mwana Kitoko ("beautiful boy"), which however the Belgian authorities tried to change into Bwana Kitoko, or "beautiful, noble man."

Part of Leopold III's unpopularity was the result of a second marriage in 1941 to Mary Lilian Baels, an English-born Belgian commoner, later known as Princess de Réthy. More controversial had been Leopold's decision to surrender to Nazi Germany during World War II, when Belgium was invaded in 1940; many Belgians questioned his loyalties, but a commission of inquiry exonerated him of treason after World War II. Though reinstated in a plebiscite, the controversy surrounding Leopold led to his abdication.

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