Prince Philippe of Belgium, Count of Flanders
25 June 1861
Volume 4, page 127, sitting number 4580.
Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, was the younger brother of Léopold II, King of the Belgians.
In 1862 he was offered the crown of Greece but turned it down (it subsequently went to Prince George of Denmark, younger brother of Princess Alexandra) and in 1866 he refused being named the new sovereign of Romania (the throne was later accepted by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who reigned as King Carol I of Romania).
On 25 April 1867 at St Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin he married Marie Luise Alexandra Caroline, Princess of Hohenzollern, daughter of Karl Anton von Hohenzollern and his wife Josephine of Baden. By coincidence, it was his new wife’s brother who had accepted the Romanian crown he had declined. Their marriage produced five children, including a twin who died in infancy and an elder son who died of influenza in 1891 at the age of 21.
After the early death of his nephew, Léopold II’s only son, on 22 January 1869, Philippe was Heir Presumptive to the throne of Belgium until his own death from acute pneumonia at the Regency Palace in Brussels on 17 November 1905. He was buried in the Church of Our Lady of Laeken.
According to an obituary penned by the Belgian correspondent of the Evening Mail (20 November 1905): ‘The Count of Flanders will be missed by a large circle of attached friends and relations. In spite of almost total deafness, he yet kept in touch with all that was going on in the worlds of art, philanthropy, and letters, and he delighted to show English friends the contents of his splendid library, all arranged and catalogued by himself. He often walked about Brussels with his son and his daughters, and was on kindly terms with all the notabilities of the Belgian capital, and he was regarded with affection and respect even by members of the extreme Socialist party. To the King of the Belgians his loss will be irreparable.’ The obituary had earlier mentioned his ‘retiring habits,' his love of travel, and ‘his intelligent and studious nature.’ He was a frequent visitor at the court of his first cousin, Queen Victoria.
Four years after his death, the crown passed to his son, who ascended the throne as King Albert I.