Belgium Banknotes 10000 Belgian Francs banknote 1997 King Albert II and Queen Paola
National Bank of Belgium - Nationale Bank van België - Banque nationale de Belgique
Obverse: Portrait of the royal couple, King Albert II and Queen Paola and the Parliamentary hemicycle.
Reverse: Royal Greenhouses of Laeken.
Belgian banknotes - Belgium paper money
King Albert II of Belgium
Albert II, in full Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (born June 6, 1934, Brussels, Belgium), king of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013.
The second son of King Leopold III, Albert was educated at home and in Geneva and Brussels and entered the Belgian navy in 1953. From 1962 until his ascent, he served as honorary chairman of the Belgian Office of Foreign Trade, leading some 70 important trade missions and becoming an expert on shipping. He also served as the longtime president of the Belgian Red Cross and as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
In 1959 he married Paola Ruffo di Calabria, an Italian princess. The couple had three children: Philippe (born 1960), Astrid (born 1962), and Laurent (born 1963). Albert succeeded his childless older brother Baudouin after the latter’s death in July 1993. Though many had speculated that he would abdicate in favour of his eldest son, Albert was sworn in as sixth king of the Belgians on August 9, 1993. An avid motorcycle rider, Albert in 2003 celebrated the 10th anniversary of his coronation by kick-starting a commemorative parade of some 20,000 bikers.
Though constitutional reform in 1993 had federalized the government and limited the power of the monarchy, Albert remained an important symbol of unity to the country as it faced growing political divisiveness between French-speaking Wallonia and Flemish-speaking Flanders. At times Albert’s role as a unifier went well beyond the bounds of symbolism; indeed, in 2007–08 he played an active part in negotiations that led to the formation of a governing coalition after a protracted period of particular acrimony and instability in the Belgian parliament. Citing ill health, Albert announced his intention to abdicate in 2013; on July 21 of that year he stepped aside in favour of his son Philippe.
Queen Paola of Belgium
Queen Paola of Belgium (born Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria on 11 September 1937) is the wife of King Albert II. As such, she was Queen of the Belgians from 1993 until 2013.
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% 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 1947, 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.
In 1958, the Prince of Liège went to the Vatican to witness the inauguration 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 Royal Household wanted to organise the wedding in the Vatican, and to have it blessed by Pope John XXIII. Albert's father, King Leopold III of the Belgians, his aunt ex-Queen Marie-José of Italy, and Paola's brother, the Prince Ruffo, sent a diplomatic mission to the pontifical court. However the Belgian Government never accepted, and objected to the wish of the court. The Pope understood the government's concerns, and never agreed to participate in the wedding. Finally, avoiding an international scandal, the Prince of Liège married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria at St. Goedele Cathedral in Brussels on 2 July 1959.
The couple have three children:
Philippe, King of the Belgians, who married Countess Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz
Princess Astrid, who married Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este;
Prince Laurent, who married Claire Louise Coombs.
By the late 1960s, the marriage had deteriorated. There were even rumors of divorce plans. By the early 1980s, however, the couple's relations had improved. In the end, Albert and Paola chose to stay together.
For her 70th birthday interview, Paola, by then Queen of the Belgians, said, "we've had our problems, but now we both say that we were meant for each other. We are very happy now.
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Dutch: Koninklijke Serres van Laken, French: Serres Royales de Laeken), are a vast complex of monumental heated greenhouses in the park of the Royal Palace of Laeken in the north of Brussels. It is one of the major tourist attractions of the city.
The complex was commissioned by King Leopold II and designed by Alphonse Balat. Built between 1874 and 1895, the complex was finished with the completion of the so-called "Iron Church", a domed greenhouse that would originally serve as the royal chapel. The total floor surface of this immense complex is 2.5 hectares (270,000 square feet). 800,000 liters (over 200,000 US gallons) of fuel oil are needed each year to heat the buildings.
The complex can only be visited during a two-week period in April–May each year, when most flowers are in full bloom.