(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 (1901–83) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905–35). Having had no children, the crown passed on to his brother, Albert II of Belgium, following his death. He is the first cousin of King Harald V of Norway, Princess Astrid of Norway, and Princess Ragnhild of Norway. Ascent to the throne
Baudouin was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, near Laeken, Brussels, in Belgium, in 1930, the son of Prince Leopold, the Duke of Brabant and his wife, Astrid of Sweden. His father became King of the Belgians, as Leopold III, in 1934. Baudouin's mother died in 1935.
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.
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"). Marriage
On 15 December 1960, Baudouin was married in Brussels to Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón. The King and Queen had no children; all of the Queen's five pregnancies ended in miscarriage. Religious influences
Baudouin was a devout Roman Catholic. Through the influence of Leo Cardinal Suenens, Baudouin participated in the growing Catholic Charismatic Renewal and regularly went on pilgrimages to the French shrine of Paray-le-Monial.
In 1990, when a law submitted by Roger Lallemand and Lucienne Herman-Michielsens, liberalising Belgium's abortion laws, was approved by Parliament, he refused to give Royal Assent to the bill. This was unprecedented; although Baudoin was nominally Belgium's chief executive, Royal Assent has long been a formality (as is the case in most constitutional and popular monarchies). However, due to his religious convictions, Baudouin asked the Government to declare him temporarily unable to reign so that he could avoid signing the measure into law. The Government under Wilfried Martens complied with his request on 4 April 1990. According to the provisions of the Belgian Constitution, in the event the King is temporarily unable to reign, the Government as a whole fulfills the role of Head of State. All members of the Government signed the bill, and the next day (5 April 1990) the Government declared that Baudouin was capable of reigning again. Death, succession, and legacy
Baudouin reigned for 42 years. He died of heart failure on 31 July 1993 in the Villa Astrida in Motril, in the south of Spain. His death was unexpected, and sent much of Belgium into a period of deep mourning. Within hours the grids of the Royal Palace were covered with flowers that people spontaneously brought. A viewing of the body was organised at the Royal Palace in central Brussels; 500,000 people turned up to pay their respects. Many waited in line up to 14 hours in sweltering heat to get to see their King one last time. Queen Elizabeth II attended the funeral in person; by tradition the British monarch attends only those funerals which are of close family members (they were only third cousins) or such politicians as prime ministers who die while in office.
King Baudouin was interred in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, Brussels, Belgium. He was succeeded by his younger brother, who became King Albert II.