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Queen Paola of Belgium

Queen Paola of Belgium

Belgian royalty and wife of King Albert II
The basics
About
AKA Paola Ruffo di Calabria, Paola, Queen of the Belgians
Date of birth Forte dei Marmi, Province of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Family
Children: Philippe of Belgium Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este Prince Laurent of Belgium
Mother: Luisa Gazelli dei Conti di Rossana
Father: Fulco Ruffo di Calabria
Spouse: Albert II of Belgium
Awards Order of the White Eagle, Order of the White Rose of Finland, Order of the Three Stars, Order of the Star of Romania
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
The details
Biography

Queen Paola of Belgium (born Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria on 11 September 1937) is the wife of the former King Albert II and was Queen of the Belgians from 1993 until his abdication in 2013 in favour of their son King Philippe.

Early life and family background

She was born in Forte dei Marmi, Tuscany, Italy, the seventh and youngest child of the World War I Italian flying ace Fulco, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda (1884–1946). Her mother was Luisa Gazelli dei Conti di Rossana e di Sebastiano (1896–1989), a matrilineal descendant of the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution. She is of Italian and Belgian ancestry and was hailed as one of the leading beauties of Europe in her youth.

Queen Paola is fluent in Italian, French, German and English. Less fluent, and the cause of occasional criticism, is her Dutch, the mother tongue of nearly 60 percent of Belgians.

Ademarus Rufus, who died in 1049, held the title of Comes in southern Italy and Siggerio Ruffo became Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II's grand marshal of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1235. The family divided into two branches after the 14th century: the Ruffo di Calabria and the Ruffo di Scaletta, to the former of which the Queen belongs.

Queen Paola's brother, Don Fabrizio Ruffo di Calabria-Santipau (1922–2005), head of the entire family from 1975, was historical heir to the titles of Prince of Scilla, Prince of Palazzolo, Duke of Guardia Lombarda, Count of Sinopoli, Marquis of Licodia Eubea, Count of Nicotera, Baron of Calanna and of Crispano, Patrician of Naples.

Queen Paola is related to historically eminent Roman and southern Italian noble families, including the Colonna, Orsini, Pallavicini, Alliata and Rospigliosi. Among her distinguished ancestors of the French aristocracy were the American general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette and the Dukes of Noailles.

Since the fall of the Italian monarchy in 1946, the Princes Ruffo di Calabria have become connected by marriage, in addition to the Belgian royal family, to such formerly reigning dynasties as the Orléans, the Savoys and the Bonapartes.

Marriage and family

Paola in 1969, with Albert behind her

In 1958, the Prince of Liège went to the Vatican to witness the coronation of Pope John XXIII. At a reception at the Belgian embassy, the Prince met Italian Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria. "We were both shy, so we only talked a little," Paola said later about their first meeting. Shy but smitten, Prince Albert later proposed marriage to Paola, and she accepted. Their engagement was announced at the Chateau of Laeken in 1959. The Prince of Liège married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria at St. Goedele Cathedral in Brussels on 2 July 1959.

Issue

The couple have three children:

Health

In 2015, the court announced Queen Paola was taking "a period of total rest" following doctors' orders. They also announced that she had to cancel a planned visit to the Biennale in Venice. Further communications were kept private. The Queen sent a message to Grosio, where she was expected to visit the residence of her aunt the Marchioness Margherita Pallavicini Mossi. Newspapers believed that the Queen suffered from a stroke during the holiday. The palace later announced she was being treated for a cardiac arrhythmia.

Activities

Apart from her activities in the company of King Albert II, Queen Paola devotes her time to issues that are close to her heart, mainly in the social and cultural sphere.

Queen Paola has demonstrated interest in contemporary Belgian arts, visiting the Venetian Biennale several times. She has acquired works of Jan Fabre, Michael Borremans and others for the Royal collection. She has often met with such artists as Luc Tuymans and Dirk Braeckman.

She takes a keen interest in the protection and preservation of Belgium's heritage. She makes numerous visits to cultural sites, from Beguine convents to early 19th century industrial facilities.

Queen Paola is interested in both new and traditional crafts, and takes every opportunity to encourage the exercise and teaching of craft professions.

Queen Paola keeps abreast of contemporary art and regularly supports major exhibitions and artistic performances both in Belgium and abroad. On the initiative of Queen Paola, contemporary artists have had the opportunity to design and make original works within the Palace of Brussels.

In 1992, Queen Paola set up the Queen Paola Foundation, which focus on integration and training for young people. The Queen Paola Foundation's activities are geared towards social integration, support for teachers at all levels of the education system and schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Queen Paola is Honorary Chairman of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel and of Missing Children Europe.

Arms

Alliance Coat of Arms of King Albert II and Queen Paola.svg
Alliance Coat of Arms of King Albert II
and Queen Paola of the Belgians
Royal Monogram of Queen Paola of Belgium.svg
Royal Monogram of Queen Paola
of Belgium
Dual Cypher of King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians.svg
Dual Cypher of King Albert II and
Queen Paola of the Belgians

Titles, styles and honours

Titles

  • 11 September 1937 – 2 July 1959: Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria
  • 2 July 1959 – 9 August 1993: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Liège
  • 9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013: Her Majesty The Queen of the Belgians
  • 21 July 2013 – present: Her Majesty Queen Paola of Belgium

Honours

National honours

  • Italy: Cordone di gran Croce OMRI BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
    • Vatican: OESSG Cavaliere di Gran Croce BAR.jpg Dame Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
      • Holy See: Ribbon.Crossproecclesiaetpontifice.jpg Dame of the Decoration of Honour
    • Sovereign Military Order of Malta: SMOM-gs.svg Dame Grand Cross of Obedience of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 1st Class
  • Belgium: Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold in 1994.

Foreign honours

  • Austria: AUT Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria - 1st Class BAR.png Grand Star of the Order for Services to the Republic of Austria
  • Bulgaria: Order Stara planina ribbon.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Balkan Mountains
  • Denmark: Orderelefant ribbon.png Knight of the Order of the Elephant
  • Estonia: EST Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana - 1st Class BAR.png 1st Class of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
  • Finland: FIN Order of the White Rose Commander 1st Class BAR.png Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose
  • France: Ordre national du Merite GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Order of National Merit
  • Germany: GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 9 Sond des Grosskreuzes 218px.svg Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Japan: JPN Hokan-sho 1Class BAR.svg Paulownia Dame Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown
  • Latvia: Order of the Three Stars Ribbon bar.svg Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars
  • Lithuania: LTU Order of Vytautas the Great - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great
  • Luxembourg: Ordre du Lion d'Or de la Maison de Nassau ribbon.svg Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
  • Morocco: Noribbon.svg Dame with Collar of the Order of Muhammad
  • Netherlands: NLD Order of the Dutch Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
  • Netherlands: NED Huisorde van Oranje A1 BAR.png Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange
  • Netherlands: Royal Wedding Medal 1966.gif Recipient of the Wedding Medal of Princess Beatrix, Princess of Orange and Claus Van Amsberg
  • Norway: St Olavs Orden storkors stripe.svg Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav
  • Poland: POL Order Orła Białego BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle
  • Portugal: PRT Order of Christ - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Christ
  • Romania: ROU Order of the Star of Romania 1999 GCross BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
  • Spain: ESP Charles III Order GC.svg Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III
  • Sweden: Order of the Seraphim - Ribbon bar.svg Member of the Royal Order of the Seraphim
  • Sweden: Seraphimerorden ribbon.svg Recipient of the King Carl XVI Gustaf's Jubilee Commemorative Medal for the 50th Birthday


Ancestry

Note

The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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