Inside The Lavish Lives Of The Belgian Royal Family

The Belgian royal family certainly lives a life of luxury, just as all royal families do throughout the world. While the British royal family's money and castles are like a giant cake in comparison to Belgian waffles, they still lead lives that the average person can only dream of.

The Belgian monarchy, a constitutional and hereditary institution, plays a significant role in representing Belgium on the global stage. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde lead the royal family with regal charm and style, and their four children, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, and Princess Eléonore, bring a youthful energy to the palace. That's right, palace.

Let's look beyond the pomp and ceremony and take a sneak peek into the lavish lives of Belgium's royals. From their winter vacations in Switzerland to Princess Elisabeth's captivating journey at Oxford University, this royal family balances tradition with contemporary pursuits. Amid the glittering tiaras and formal events, the Belgian royal family lives a life full of academic achievements at the world's most prestigious schools and picturesque vacations one can only daydream about while stuck in an office cubicle, and we've got a front-row seat.

The Belgian Royal Family lives in a massive castle and works in a palace

Living life in a royal residence can appear absolutely mind-boggling. But for the Belgian royal family, it's just another day of waking up, grabbing a coffee, and settling into the exceptionally cushy couch in their castle. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde reside in the magnificent Castle of Laeken, which is situated on the Royal Domain of Laeken, a park only accessible to them that's full of opulent gardens and architecture. The Castle of Laeken, with its distinctive large dome and pillars in the front, was built between 1782 and 1784 for the Governors of the Habsburg in the Netherlands. Alphonse Balat, Henri Maquet, and Charles Girault, three eminent architects, were entrusted with the task of supervising the construction of the beautiful conservatory complex that was built in the gardens under the direction of King Leopold II. These gardens and two additional side wings, created by Girault, were added to the castle by King Leopold II later on, giving it an even more imposing look.

King Philippe's offices and staff reside at the Royal Palace of Brussels and he conducts a majority of his work there, including having audiences with politicians, other foreign royals, or whoever has important matters to discuss. That means King Philippe has a castle to live in and a palace to work in; he's definitely not your everyday office employee.

Princess Elisabeth of Belgium has a prestigious Oxford education

Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, the 19-year-old Duchess of Brabant and heir to the Belgian throne, has set an inspiring example by pursuing her education at the esteemed Oxford University, taking a three-year course in history and politics. Her enrollment at Oxford University not only underscores her dedication to academic excellence, but also exemplifies the royal family's unwavering commitment to top-tier education. The royal palace shared breathtaking photos (via Hello!) capturing Princess Elisabeth amidst the iconic landscapes of Oxford, including the front quad, library, and a cafe where she enjoyed a cup of coffee. Princess Elisabeth's experiences at Oxford University will undoubtedly contribute to her role as the first woman poised to ascend to the head of state in Belgium. And, quite sweetly, the future European queen is following in the footsteps of her father, King Philippe, who also attended the school.

Oxford University's reputation for distinction compared to other educational institutions can be attributed to several factors, including consistently ranking among the top universities globally for academic excellence along with a history of royal attendance further contributing to its legacy. Several former royal attendees include King Haakon of Norway, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Edward VII and Edward VIII of the U.K., and Emperor Naruhito of Japan. 

The Belgian royal family takes vacations in lavish destinations

When you think of a typical royal family vacation, you probably imagine posh ski resorts with giant fireplaces, fancy hot chocolate, and fluffy snow falling down on perfectly coiffed heads. Well, the Belgian Royal family's vacations are not too far off from this picture.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde take their four kids to a ski resort in Verbier, Switzerland on an annual winter break during the half-term holidays every February. Though they pose for photographers and media, the trip gives them time to relax away from official duties. While many people tend to relax at home during February winter breaks, the Belgian royal family lives a lifestyle a bit more lavish than most.

As for summer holidays, the family tends to stay somewhere in Belgium first before jetting off to a different country. They are frequent guests on the island of Île d'Yeu, which is located off the Western coast of France. They reportedly enjoy kite surfing, cycling, and shopping during their stay, and they even bought a house there in 2019 after having spent previous years at a rental property. Furthermore, in the summer of 2022, in what was considered a surprising destination, they visited Armenia on a four-day excursion in August 2018 where they did a wine-tasting tour at producer Armas. In August 2022 the family was pictured on a ferry in Croatia where they visited Mljet island.

The Belgian royal family goes all out for state visits

The Belgian royal family's lavish lifestyle is exemplified by their grand state banquets and ceremonies, which serve as a testament to their elegance and prominence on the international stage. Led by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, the Belgian royals play a vital role in representing Belgium abroad. This includes participating in high-level events such as state visits, trade missions, and international diplomatic engagements. 

One notable event was the state visit by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde to the Netherlands in November 2016. This visit involved a ceremonial inspection of the guard of honor and a lavish reception at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, attended by both Dutch and Belgian dignitaries. The Belgian royal family returned the favor when they welcomed the Dutch king and queen to their home country in June 2023, where they hosted a state banquet in their honor. Queen Mathilde pulled out all the stops, opting for an icy blue Armani Prive gown and carrying a matching Giorgio Armani clutch. Showing off the Belgian royal family's historical wealth, she showed off the Diadem of the Nine Provinces, a tiara bestowed upon Princess Astrid of Sweden upon marrying King Leopold III.

The state banquet was held at the Belgian king and queen's residence, Castle of Laeken, which was completely decked out for the occasion in massive bouquets of flowers, and long-stemmed candles in a white dining room.

Queen Mathilde is truly the Queen of Jewelry

Queen Mathilde of Belgium is celebrated for her impeccable fashion choices and a remarkable heirloom jewelry collection that symbolizes her and the Belgian royal family's affluence. With elegance as her hallmark, Queen Mathilde often graces public events and formal gatherings in refined attire, earning her recognition as a style icon.

Additionally, Queen Mathilde's heirloom jewelry collection adds a touch of grandeur to her ensembles. The collection includes exquisite pieces passed down through generations of the Belgian royal family, showcasing the opulence of their heritage. These heirlooms, adorned with precious gemstones and intricate craftsmanship, are symbols of the royal family's long history.

One notable piece of jewelry is her pair of diamond fringe earrings, which are gorgeous pieces of jewelry that have become staples in her collection. They feature a five-stranded fringed tassel hanging from a circular stud with a design that is a harmonious blend of classic style and contemporary flair. In 2022, during a three-day trip to Greece along with her husband, Queen Mathilde donned Queen Fabiola's diamond fringe brooch, a piece that has been part of the Belgian royal collection for over 40 years now. Strikingly, she decided to wear it in her hair, whereas she had previously worn it on her dress at a wedding in Monaco in 2011.

The Belgian royal family once owned a yacht named Alpa IV

The Belgian royal family's affiliation with the prestigious "Alpa IV" royal yacht reflects a chapter of opulence and leisure in their history. Acquired in 2009 for an impressive €4.6 million, this luxurious vessel served as a symbol of extravagance during the reign of Belgium's former monarch, King Albert II, and his wife, Queen Paola. The "Alpa IV" offered the royal couple a lavish retreat on the water, featuring four bedrooms and accommodations for up to 12 guests, exemplifying the grandeur expected from such regal possessions.

However, in 2021, the story took a turn as the "Alpa IV" was put up for sale (via The Brussels Times), marking the end of its era as a royal asset. The decision to sell this remarkable yacht was a significant development, representing a shift in the Belgian royal family's priorities, or perhaps a reflection of changing times. The sale offered an opportunity for one fortunate buyer to own a piece of royal history, with the yacht being listed for approximately €2 million.

The "Alpa IV" and its journey from acquisition to sale provide a glimpse into the changing dynamics of royal lifestyles and asset management. While it may have sailed away from the Belgian royals, its legacy as a symbol of affluence and leisure remains etched in Belgian monarchy history.

The Belgian royal family makes an effort to give back to the community

The Belgian royal family has consistently demonstrated its commitment to social responsibility through a range of charitable initiatives and philanthropic causes. These initiatives, promoted by King Philippe, Queen Mathilde, and other members of the royal family, play a pivotal role in addressing societal needs and fostering positive change within Belgium and beyond.

Her Majesty Queen Mathilde, in particular, maintains close contact with various segments of the population, ensuring that she stays informed about their needs and requirements. This direct engagement allows the royal family to understand the challenges faced by their fellow Belgians and to identify opportunities where their support can make a meaningful impact.

There are several initiatives from the Belgian royal family that truly get to the heart of society, including "Child Focus, the Foundation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children," the "Queen Paola Foundation, primarily operating in the field of education," and the "Queen Mathilde Fund, paying special heed to the most vulnerable people in our society." While charitable initiatives don't necessarily scream "lavish," they do point to a certain kind of wealth that the average person wouldn't necessarily be able to provide, and the Belgian royals do a fantastic job of using their name and money for good causes.

The Belgian royal family owns aesthetically pleasing gardens and greenhouses

The Belgian royal family's commitment to refined aesthetics is vividly demonstrated through the meticulously designed gardens gracing their estates. One notable example is the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken, which showcase the family's appreciation for horticultural beauty and history. Designed in 1873 by architect Alphonse Balat, these greenhouses were envisioned as a complement to the classical-style Castle of Laeken, reflecting the extravagance of King Leopold II's reign. Today, they stand as prestigious buildings and a testament to Belgium's living history.

The Royal Greenhouses offer a window into the royal family's devotion to preserving their heritage while embracing the beauty of nature. With a wide array of plant species from around the world, these gardens serve as a tranquil oasis that harmoniously blends art, architecture, and horticulture. Visitors to these palatial gardens can experience the royal family's penchant for elegance and appreciation of nature's wonders firsthand. The meticulous planning and cultivation of these estates reflect their commitment to maintaining a refined and aesthetically pleasing environment.

The Winter Garden is the massive dome in the center, but the entire complex is comprised of the Congo Greenhouse, the Diana Greenhouse, the Palm Greenhouse, and the Embarcadère Greenhouse, all of which take up a stunning 6.2 acres. Talk about a backyard that's just a little bigger than average. 

The Belgian royal family flies in luxury private jets

Does anything scream a lavish and luxe lifestyle like flying by private jet? We often think of people like Beyonce and Jay-Z or The Kardashians stepping off these exclusive aircraft. But, the Belgian royal family is no stranger to the world of private jets, and their utilization of these aircraft underscores both their convenience and luxury. Among the notable private jets they have had access to is the Dassault Falcon 7X, a three-engine long-range corporate jet capable of accommodating between 12 to 16 passengers.

This choice of private jet aligns with the family's need for seamless travel, particularly for official engagements, state visits, and personal trips. Private jets like the Dassault Falcon 7X offer a level of flexibility and exclusivity that perfectly suits the royal lifestyle. With its extended range and spacious cabin, this aircraft provides the Belgian royals with the freedom to travel non-stop on long-haul journeys, ensuring both comfort and efficiency.

King Albert II couldn't live on his $1.2 million pension

The Belgian royal family's long history of wealth and privilege can be traced back to the dynasty founded by Leopold I in the 19th century. Leopold II, in particular, amassed a significant fortune through his involvement with the Belgian Congo. Although the monarchy's role in Belgium is primarily ceremonial, it receives substantial financial support from the government, with taxpayer funds allocated for royal expenses. 

Retired Belgian King Albert II faced some financial challenges in 2013 as he tried to manage his expenses with a royal pension of $1.2 million annually (although to the average person this would feel like winning the lottery). After he abdicated the throne, he passed on the $15 million stipend that would go to his successor, his son Philippe. French newspapers reported that King Albert II requested a larger allowance from the government but was shot down. Of course, that didn't stop him from asking the government to cover the expenses and upkeep for his residence, Belvedere Castle, as well as his yacht. 

The whole fiasco led to a major public debate about the finances of the monarchy, especially given the struggles of the government and the average Belgian citizen. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pol Van Den Driessche of the anti-monarchy party had said in foreign media, "I don't think the king will have to eat a sandwich less [without a pension raise]."

The wedding of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde was spectacular

The wedding of Queen Mathilde and King Philippe of Belgium was a lavish affair that captivated the world. It took place on December 4, 1999, and was marked by grandeur in several ways. Firstly, the union of Queen Mathilde and King Philippe was a significant event in Belgium's history, as it meant the ascent of Philippe to the throne as the seventh king of the Belgians. The wedding had to reflect the importance of this momentous transition. Secondly, the couple's backgrounds played a role in the lavishness of the event. Queen Mathilde came from Belgian nobility (her mother was a countess), while King Philippe was the heir to the Belgian throne. Their wedding was a union of two prominent families, which naturally led to a grand celebration.

The ceremony itself was held at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, a stunning Gothic church that added to the regal ambiance. The bride wore an exquisite wedding gown by Edouard Vermeulen, and the train was an astounding 15 feet. Of course, the bride was not to be without something borrowed and wore a 120-year-old veil loaned from Queen Paola, who wore it on her own wedding day. At the reception, which took place at their current residence, Castle of Laeken, 750 guests dined on lobster and venison as well as a dessert of chocolate gateau.