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King Baudouin of Belgium
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    (September 7, 1930-July 31, 1993)
    Born in Brussels, Belgium
    Birth name was Baudouin Albert Charles Leopold Axel Maria Gustave
    Son of King Leopold III
    King of Belgium (1951-93)
    He was described by the New York Times as 'self-effacing almost to the verge of obsession.'
    Upon his ascension to the throne, he stood on the palace balcony acknowledging the crowds for less than a minute before retiring inside.
    At his father's behest, he refused to attend the funeral of King George VI, creating a rift between the Belgian and British royal families.
    During independence ceremonies in Zaire, he gave a speech praising King Leopold II, drawing a withering response from Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
    The Belgian Parliament deposed him for one day when he refused to grant Royal Assent to a law legalizing abortion (April 4, 1990).
    His mother died in a car crash when he was four.
    He was imprisoned with the royal family by the Nazis during WWII.
    He was devout and hard working.
    He reportedly wanted to become a Trappist monk but was persuaded that two abdications back to back would spell the end of the Belgian monarchy.
    He said about his refusal to approve the abortion law, 'Does freedom of conscience apply to everyone except the King?'
    People delivering eulogies at his funeral ranged from the Bishop of Antwerp to a former prostitute (who praised his campaign against the international sex trade).

Credit: C. Fishel

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