Queen Paola, consort of King Albert II of the Belgians, celebrated her 75th birthday on September 11, 2012.  Born Paola Ruffo di Calabria, the queen is the seventh and youngest child of Fulco, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, a World War I flying ace.  Queen Paola was one of the great beauties of her day and has aged gracefully through the years.  The future Queen Paola met the then Prince Albert of Belgium in 1958 when the prince was in Rome for the coronation Pope John XXIII.  The couple married in Brussels in 1959.  They have three children, Prince Philippe (b. 1960), Princess Astrid (b. 1962) and Prince Laurent (b. 1963).  Prince Albert succeeded his brother, Baudouin, as King of the Belgians, upon the latter’s death in 1993.  Today, Queen Paola is a grandmother of twelve and continues to serve Belgium in her capacity as queen.  Photos by Corbis and Getty Images.

A photo of Queen Paola, with her husband, King Albert II, and most of their grandchildren (September 2012)


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