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King Albert I of the Belgians 1875-1934

The third King of Belgium was not born to rule. He was born on April 8, 1875, the second son and fourth surviving child of Prince Phillipe, Count of Flanders and Princess Marie of Hohenzollern. As his uncle King Leopold II had no surviving sons, Albert's older brother Badouin was preparing for the throne; after his sudden death in 1891, the teenage Albert became the one being groomed for the throne.

As albert grew older, marriage became an issue,as it was neccessary for him as heir to the throne to produce heirs. On October 3, 1900, he married Elisabeth of Bavaria. They were opposites: he was tall, shy, serious,and scholarly, while she was short and vivacious with a keen interest in the arts. However, they enjoyed a stable,happy marriage, a rarity among monarchs of thier time, that produced three children: Leopold in 1901, who succeeded him as Leopold III, Charles in 1903, and Marie-Jose in 1906, who would be the last Queen of Italy. Albert and Elisabeth's leisurely family life came to a halt in 1909, when Albert became king following his uncle Leopold II's death. He would prove to be an able monarch: a socialist was once quoted as saying that if the monarchy ended, he would vote Albert president! In 1914, Belgium underwent sudden change. After giving the Belgian government an ultimatum, Germany invaded in August of 1914, bringing Britain into the war. Albert lead his troops in several major battles; when the war ended in November of 1918, he recieved a hero's welcome in Brussels. He earned the nickname Le Roi Chevalier and remained popular after the war.

Albert would reign until 1934, when he died suddenly in a mountain climbing accident. He was succeeded by his eldest son Leopold III. Unlike Leopold, who was and probably still is a polarizing figure in the country due to his controverisial refusal to leave with the Belgian government(he remained in his palace in occupied Brussels) and his second marriage to a commoner, Albert has remained possibly the most beloved Belgian monarch.

In the The Romanovs - One Last Dance Novel:

Well, now Laeken is rather quiet as Leo and Anastasie are visiting poor King George in England and dear Lisa and La Petite have just left for a sojourn in Egypt to see King Tutankhamen's tomb. Meanwhile, I have a constitutional amendment for Belgian succession up my sleeve...i have just spoken with the prime minister and I hope that parliament will accept my proposal.

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