Princess Astrid of Sweden was born in Stockholm on 17 November 1905. She was the niece of King Gustav V of Sweden, since she was the youngest daughter of the king's brother, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland, and his wife, Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. Astrid's paternal grandfather was King Oscar II of Sweden and her maternal grandfather was King Frederick VIII of Denmark. Astrid's sister, Princess Märtha, married the future King Olav V of Norway. Her eldest sister, Princess Margaretha of Sweden married Prince Axel of Denmark, while her only brother Prince Carl, Duke of Östergötland, married morganatically.
In Stockholm, on 4 November 1926 civilly and religiously in Brussels on 10 November, Princess Astrid married Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium, the son of King Albert I of Belgium and his wife, Queen Elisabeth, born Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria. It was a happy and devoted marriage (Beeche).
Astrid was enthusiastically adopted by the Belgians. She was widely loved for her beauty, kindness, charm and simplicity. In 1927, Leopold and Astrid had a daughter, Princess Josephine-Charlotte, and in 1930, their first son, Prince Baudouin (who eventually succeeded his father as King of the Belgians).
Conversion to Catholicism
Raised as a Lutheran, Astrid converted to Catholicism after marrying Prince Leopold. She had initially considered converting to Catholicism, simply because it was the religion of Belgium, but the priest she consulted told her not to do so until she genuinely believed it was the true religion (Rooth). Astrid learned more about Catholicism and, several years later, in 1930, converted from genuine conviction. Her decision made her happy, and she confided to a close childhood friend: “My soul has found peace" ( Sparre ). Her father-in-law, King Albert, who was very devout himself, said, over and over again, on the day of Astrid's conversion: "I am very glad. Now the family is united in the same religion." ( d'Ydewalle )
On February 17, 1934, King Albert died in a mountain-climbing accident in Marche-les-Dames, Belgium. Leopold and Astrid became the new King and Queen of the Belgians. Later that year, the third child of Leopold and Astrid was born. He was named Albert after his grandfather, and would eventually succeed his brother Baudouin as King of the Belgians.
As Queen, Astrid dedicated her time to raising her family and promoting social causes. She was very concerned with the situation of women, children, and the disadvantaged. During an economic crisis in Belgium in 1935, she organized a collection of clothing and food for the poor (Sparre). She did this through an open letter, which was published as the “Queen’s Appeal”.
Tragically, at age 29, Queen Astrid was killed in a car accident in the mountains, at Küssnacht am Rigi, near Lake Lucerne, Schwyz, Switzerland, on 29 August 1935. She was deeply mourned by her husband, King Leopold, by the Belgians, and by the Swedes. A commemorative chapel was built in Switzerland at the site of the crash. Queen Astrid is still remembered with great affection by the Belgians, and, because of the Queen, the Belgians developed a very positive image of Sweden (Rooth).
- Catherine Barjansky. "Portraits with Backgrounds."
- Art Beeche. "The Snow Princess."
- Robert Capelle. "Dix-huit ans auprès du Roi Léopold."
- Charles d'Ydewalle. "Albert and the Belgians: Portrait of a King."
- Evelyn Graham. "Albert King of the Belgians."
- Luciano Regolo. "La Regina Incompresa."
- Lars Rooth. "More Joy Than Pain."
- Anna Sparre. "Astrid mon amie."
- Royal House of Sweden and Royal House of Norway
- Royal House of Belgium
- Astrid of Sweden at Find-A-Grave
Astrid of SwedenBorn: 17 November 1905 Died: 29 August 1935
Elisabeth of Bavaria
|Queen consort of the Belgians|
Title next held byFabiola de Mora y Aragón
Title last held byMarie Henriette of Austria
|Duchess of Brabant|
Title next held byMathilde
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