Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Albert II, King of Belgium (1934–)

King of Belgium since 1993. Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugéne Marie Saxe-Coburg was born on 6 June 1934 in Brussels at the Château Stuyvenberg, the younger son of King Leopold III (1901–1983) and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden (1905–1935). At birth, he was given the title Prince of Liège. When Leopold II abdicated the throne in 1951, Albert's older brother, Baudouin, succeeded as king, and Albert became the heir apparent. In 1959, Albert married Queen Paola, with whom he fathered three children.

Albert became the sixth king of the Belgians on 9 August 1993, nine days after Baudouin's death. Albert II was a consistent supporter of U.S. Cold War policies and a strong proponent of European economic and political integration.

Albert, who served as a vice admiral in the Belgian Navy, was convinced that Belgian (and European) prosperity was threatened by the Soviet Union. Throughout his public career, he has been dedicated to making Europe an economic and diplomatic power. Brussels is the headquarters of the European Community (EC) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), two institutions that Albert steadfastly championed. He has also maintained a close diplomatic relationship with the United States. Albert continues to lure foreign investment to Belgium and to promote export opportunities for Belgian products.

In 1984, Albert created the Prince Albert Fund, which provides scholarships for students interested in international trade. In the post–Cold War period, he has encouraged political and economic reform in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Michael R. Hall


Further Reading
Neuckermans, Luc. Albert II: Koning na Boudewijn [Albert II: King after Baudouin]. Antwerp: Van Halewijck, 1995.; Witte, Els, Jan Craeybeckx, and Alain Meynen. Political History of Belgium from 1830 Onwards. Amsterdam: Vu University Press, 2001.
 

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