Leopold II, king of Belgium

BORN 9 Apr 1835, Brussel - DIED 17 Dec 1909, Brussel: Laeken
BIRTH NAME Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor
GRAVE LOCATION Brussel: Église Notre Dame de Laeken, Laeken

Leopold II was the second child of the Belgian king Leopold I annd his second wife Louise of Orléans. His elder brother had died before Leopold was born. When he was eighteen years old he married Marie Henriette of Austria, a cousin of emperor Franz Joseph, on 22 August 1853 in Brussels. They had four children. Between 1854 and 1865 he travelled extensively and visited India, China, Egypt and African countries. After his father died he became king of Belgium on 17 December 1865, aged 30.

As a king he commissioned many buildings and public works, including the Royal Galleries of Ostend and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. He believed that overseas colonies proved a country's greatness, but in 1885 the Congo Free State became his personal property. He would transfer it to the Belgian state in 1908. He gained a fortune by exploiting the natural resources of Congo and the native people of Congo were abused severely and probably millions of people were killed.

During his life Leopold had many mistresses. One of them was the courtesan Émilienne d'Alençon and when he was 65 years old in 1899 the 16 year-old French prostitute Caroline Lacroix became his mistress and stayed with him until his death in 1909. He died in 1909 at Laeken and was succeeded by Albert I, the son of his brother Philippe. During his funeral his cortege was booed by the crowd because of his harsh treatment of Congo.

• Wife: Marie Henriëtte of Habsburg, Queen of Belgium (1853-1902, Brussel)

Related persons
• was the lover of d'Alençon, Émilienne
• has a connection with Mérode, Cléo de
• employed Moer, Jean-Baptiste van


The tomb of King Leopold II and his wife Marie-Henriette in the crypt of the Notre-Dame in Laeken, Brussels.
Picture by Androom (28 Apr 2007)


Leopold II of Belgium - Wikipedia

Lepère, Jean-Baptiste

Published: 01 Feb 2022
Last update: 05 Feb 2022