Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians

Astrid of Sweden c. 1926 (source)

Astrid of Sweden c. 1926 (source)

Astrid of Sweden, Duchess of Brabant, was born on 17 Nov 1905. She later became Queen consort of the Belgians as wife of King Leopold III. Her father, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland, was the younger brother of Gustav V of Sweden, and her mother,  Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, was the sister of Christian X of Denmark. Astrid was considered as a potential match for several princes, but when their announcement was made, Leopold’s mother, Queen Elisabeth, made a point of saying that the match was one of love without “political consideration.” This certainly appears to have been true.

Astrid and Leopold had three children, Joséphine-Charlotte, Baudouin, and Albert. Astrid took pleasure in caring for her family, often cooking for them and taking the children for walks, against protocol. Raised Lutheran, she was encouraged not to convert to Catholicism just because it was the religion of Belgium, but she did convert several years after the marriage out of genune conviction. When Leopold became king in 1934, Astrid continued spending time raising her children, but also promoted social causes, particularly those that benefitted women, children, and the disadvantaged.

In 1935, Astrid and Leopold went to Switzerland with the two oldest children on vacation. On their last day there, the children having been sent home already, they were driving to go on a last hike before returning. Leopold was driving and lost control of the car. Both he and Astrid were thrown from the car, but her injuries were severe. She died at the scene of the accident. She was greatly mourned. A postage stamp, Astrid Mourning, was issued in her honor, and a chapel was built at the accident scene. She is buried beside her husband at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken in Brussels.

Both of Astrid’s sons reigned as King of the Belgians: Baudouin from his father’s abdication in 1951 until his death in 1993, and Albert II from 1993 until his abdication in favor of his son, Philippe, the reigning monarch, in 2013.

Find out what else happened on November 17 in Women’s History.

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