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|Queen consort of the Belgians|
|Tenure||9 August 1993 – 21 July 2013|
|Spouse||Albert II of Belgium|
|Issue||King Philippe of Belgium|
Princess Astrid, Archduchess of Austria-Este
|House||Princely and Ducal House of Ruffo di Calabria|
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|Father||Fulco, Prince Ruffo di Calabria|
|Mother||Luisa Gazelli dei Conti di Rossana|
|Born|| 11 September 1937 |
Villa Claudia, Forte dei Marmi, Italy
|Belgian Royal Family|
HM King Albert II
She was born in Forte dei Marmi, Tuscany, Italy, the seventh and youngest child of the World War I Italian flying ace Fulco, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda (1884–1946). Her mother was Luisa Gazelli dei Conti di Rossana e di Sebastiano (1896–1989), a matrilineal descendant of the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution. She is of Italian and Belgian ancestry and was hailed as one of the leading beauties of Europe in her youth.
Ademarus Rufus, who died in 1049, held the title of Comes in southern Italy and Siggerio Ruffo became Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II's grand marshal of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1235. The family divided into two branches after the 14th century: the Ruffo di Calabria and the Ruffo di Scaletta, to the former of which the Queen belongs.
Queen Paola's brother, Don Fabrizio Ruffo di Calabria-Santipau (1922–2005), head of the entire family from 1975, was historical heir to the titles of Prince of Scilla, Prince of Palazzolo, Duke of Guardia Lombarda, Count of Sinopoli, Marquis of Licodia Eubea, Count of Nicotera, Baron of Calanna and of Crispano, Patrician of Naples.
Queen Paola is related to historically eminent Roman and southern Italian noble families, including the Colonna, Orsini, Pallavicini, Alliata and Rospigliosi. Among her distinguished ancestors of the French aristocracy were the American general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette and the Dukes of Noailles.
Since the fall of the Italian monarchy in 1947, the Princes Ruffo di Calabria have become connected by marriage, in addition to the Belgian royal family, to such formerly reigning dynasties as the Orléans, the Savoys and the Bonapartes.
In 1958, the Prince of Liège went to the Vatican to witness the inauguration of Pope John XXIII. At a reception at the Belgian embassy, the Prince met Italian Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria. "We were both shy, so we only talked a little," Paola said later about their first meeting. Shy but smitten, Prince Albert later proposed marriage to Paola, and she accepted. Their engagement was announced at the Chateau of Laeken in 1959.
The Royal Household wanted to organise the wedding in the Vatican, and to have it blessed by Pope John XXIII. Albert's father, King Leopold III of the Belgians, his aunt ex-Queen Marie-José of Italy, and Paola's brother, the Prince Ruffo, sent a diplomatic mission to the pontifical court. However the Belgian Government never accepted, and objected to the wish of the court. The Pope understood the government's concerns, and never agreed to participate in the wedding. Finally, avoiding an international scandal, the Prince of Liège married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria at St. Goedele Cathedral in Brussels on 2 July 1959.
The couple have three children:
By the late 1960s, the marriage had deteriorated. There were even rumors of divorce plans. By the early 1980s, however, the couple's relations had improved. In the end, Albert and Paola chose to stay together.
For her 70th birthday interview, Paola, by then Queen of the Belgians, said, "we've had our problems, but now we both say that we were meant for each other. We are very happy now."
Queen Paola has demonstrated interest in contemporary Belgian arts, visiting the Ventian Biënale several times. She has acquired works of Jan Fabre, Michael Borremans and others for the Royal collection. She has often met with such artists as Luc Tuymans and Dirk Braeckman.
|Austria||Great Star of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (1997)|||
|Bulgaria||Cordon of the Order of Stara Planina (2003)||Photo|
|Denmark||Knight of the Order of the Elephant||Photo|
|Estonia||Member 1st Class of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (2008)||Photo|
|Finland||Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (2004)||Photo|
|Germany||Dame Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany||Photo|
|Holy See||Dame of the Collar of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (1995)||website|
|Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice||website|
|Italy||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (12/05/1998)||Orders website|
|Japan||Grand Cordon (or 1st class) of the Order of the Precious Crown||Ph. 1, Ph 2|
|Latvia||Commander Grand Cross of the Order of Three Stars||Recipients list (.doc)|
|Lithuania||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great||official news|
|Luxembourg||Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau||Photo|
|.||Morocco||Member Special Class of the Order of Muhammad||.|
|Netherlands||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion||Photo|
|Norway||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Olav (2003)||Photo|
|Poland||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle||Photo|
|Portugal||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (13 December 1999)||Photo 1, Photo 2|
|Romania||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania (2009)||Recipients table|
|Sweden||Member of the Royal Order of the Seraphim||Photo|
|Spain||Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (16 September 1994)|||
|Ancestors of Queen Paola of Belgium|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Queen Paola of Belgium.|
Queen Paola of BelgiumBorn: 11 September 1937
Fabiola de Mora y Aragón
|Queen consort of the Belgians|
Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz