|by Stefano Chiolo via Wikimedia Commons|
Britain has Princess Anne -- a highly capable, reliable and hardworking princess devoted to the well-being of the nation and the monarchy. Belgium has Princess Astrid, second daughter of the former King Albert II and his Italian wife Paola. Currently fourth in the line of succession, Astrid was born with no right to the throne due to her gender. It was also expected that her uncle King Baudouin would have children leaving younger brother Albert's children, especially his daughter, to fade into the background of the royal tapestry. But things changed.
In 1962, Albert and Paola chose to name their baby daughter after his mother, Queen Astrid, a former Swedish princess who had died in a car accident on holiday when Albert was barely a toddler. She grew up sandwiched between her older brother Prince Philippe and younger brother Prince Laurent. She went to school in Brussels before enrolling for a year to study at Leiden University in The Netherlands, then on to the Institute of European Studies, and finally to the University of Michigan in the the United States. She returned to Belgium and soon announced her engagement to a scion of the former Imperial House of Austria.
Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este is a grandson of the last Emperor of Austria, Karl I, and is the head of his branch of the family. Seven and a half years older than Astrid, Lorenz has already established himself in a banking career with postings in several major European capitol. He was warmly welcomed into the Belgian royal family when the couple wed in 1984. Over the next 19 years, they had five children, each of whom carries princely Belgian titles and archducal Austria-Este ones. In birth order, they are Amedeo, Maria Laura, Joachim, Luisa Maria, and Laetitia Maria. Now that the older children are grown, they are also Astrid and Lorenz are also proud grandparents.
In 1991, the succession laws were changed not only to allow female inheritance but to adopt absolute primogeniture, allowing birth order to dictate position. This placed Astrid at the time behind her father Albert and her older brother Philippe but ahead of her younger brother Prince Laurent. When her uncle King Baudouin died in 1993 and her father became King, Astrid moved to number two, but she only held that position until Philippe starting having children and pushing her down the line.
Nevertheless, Astrid and Lorenz have been devoted to the nation and the monarchy, which led his father-in-law to make him a Prince of Belgium in 1995. Astrid's interests lie particularly in medical areas and landmines. She served for many years as the head of the Belgian Red Cross and was a Special Envoy of the Ottawa Treaty, traveling the world to encourage nations to sign on to the agreement to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines. She also is a colonel in the Belgian military's medical branch and serves on the board of the country's Paralympics committee.
Although a broken vertebra sidelined her in 2021, she soon returned to royal duties. Pleasantly and calmly representing king and country.
MORE ABOUT ASTRID
Meet the Very Stylish Royal Family of Belgium on Glamour
Princess Astrid on The Belgian Monarchy
Princess Astrid of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este on Unofficial Royalty
Princess Astrid of Belgium Fractures Vertebrae on Royal Central