Leopold II, King of the Belgians (Louis Philippe Marie Victor) (April 9, 1835 - December 17, 1909), succeeded his father, Leopold I of Belgium, to the Belgian throne in 1865.
The monarch was most famous for having his own colony, the Congo Free State, which he virtually made his private property in 1884. In 1908, the Congo free state was annexed by the Belgian state and renamed Belgian Congo.
- King Leopold II -
Leopold was born in Brussels. At an early age he entered the Belgian army, and in Brussels, on August 22, 1853, he was married to Marie Henriette Anne von Hapsburg, Archduchess of Austria, born at Pest, Austria-Hungary (now Budapest, Hungary) on August 23, 1836, and who died at Spa, Liö¡, Belgium on September 20, 1902. She was the daughter of Joseph, Archduke of Austria (1776 - 1847) who was son of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (1747 - 1792).
Leopold II and Marie Henriette Anne\'s children were:
Louise-Marie Amô]e, born Brussels February 18, 1858 and died at Wiesbaden March 1, 1924. She married Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Leopold Ferdinand Elie Victor Albert Marie, Count of Hainaut (as eldest son of the heir apparent), Duke of Brabant (as heir apparent), born at Laeken on June 12, 1859 and died at Laeken on January 22, 1869.
Stöanie Clotilde Louise Herminie Marie Charlotte, born at Laeken on May 21, 1864, and died at the Abbey of Pannonhalma at Gy?entmarton, Hungary on August 23, 1945. She married (1) Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria and then (2) ElemöáEdmund Graf Ly de Nagy-L et V᳡ros-Namõ} (created, in 1917, Prince Ly de Nagy-L et V᳡ros-Namõ}).
Clôntine Albertine Marie LöToldine, born at Laeken on July 30, 1872 and died at Nice, France on March 8, 1955. She married Prince NapolöR Victor Jöñme Frð_ric Bonaparte (1862 - 1926), head of the Bonaparte family.
Leopold II was also the father of two sons, Lucien Philippe Marie Antoine (1906-1984) and Philippe Henri Marie FranºYs (1907-1914), born out of wedlock. Their mother was Blanche Zô]a Josöine Delacroix (1883-1948), aka Caroline Lacroix, a prostitute who married the king on December 12, 1909, in a religious ceremony with no validity under Belgian law, at the Pavilion of Palms, Chⴥau de Laeken, five days before his death. These sons were adopted in 1910 by Lacroix\'s second husband, Antoine Durrieux. Though Lacroix is said to have been created Baroness de Vaughan, Lucien the Duke of Tervuren, and Philippe the Count of Ravenstein, no such royal decrees were ever issued.
In Belgian domestic politics Leopold emphasized military defense as the basis of neutrality, but he was unable to obtain a universal conscription law until on his death bed.
King Leopold II died on December 17, 1909 and was interred in the Royal vault at the Church of Our Lady, Laeken Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium.
Interest in Africa
In 1876 Leopold II of the Belgians organized an international association as a front for his private plan to \