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6 very royal April birthdays

Three kings, two queens and one Grand Duke all have special days this month.  Yep, the chances of a head of a European ruling house being born in this sunny month are pretty high - six out of ten isn't a bad batting average. We've got a half century coming up among them as well - this is a month full of very royal anniversaries indeed. Here are six royal birthdays that rule in April.

Philippe, King of the Belgians is 57 on April 15th
King Philippe of the Belgians is kind of your average Eureopan monarch right now. He's not the youngest or the oldest, not the longest reigning or the most recent to the throne, he's just kind of in the middle and making rather a good job of it all. Philippe Leopold Louis Marie was born on April 15th 1960 in Brussels, the first child of the then Prince and Princess of Liege, Albert and Paola. Their baby boy was born second in line to the Belgian throne but was never expected to reign but slowly it became clear Philippe would one day take the throne. Seen as uninspiring for much of his youth, his royal image changed in December 1999 when he married Mathilde d'Udekom d'Acoz and the new Duke and Duchess of Brabant became European stars. The unexpected abdication of his father, Albert II, in July 2013, put Philippe on the throne far earlier than expected but he has more than risen to the challenge. High approval ratings at home and an increasing international profile mean the boy who was never expected to rule is now one of the continent's most well respected monarchs. Philippe celebrates his fourth anniversary as King of the Belgians on July 21st 2013.

Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark is 77 on April 16th
While big birthdays, or basically any that end in a 0 or 5, are likely to see Margrethe II of Denmark thrown open the palace doors for a tiara decked party, this year's celebrations will be low key, especially as the Danish Queen is still in mourning for her brother-in-law, Prince Richard of Berleburg, who died in March. Margrethe is Europe's second longest reigning monarch and its third oldest but she was an unlikely queen. Margrethe Alexandrine ├×orhildur Ingrid was born on April 16th 1940 at the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, the eldest child of the then Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark. She had no succession rights but by the time her parents became King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid in 1947, they only had daughters and laws were eventually changed so Margrethe could succeed. She became Queen of Denmark on January 14th 1972 on the death of her father and marked her 45th anniversary on the throne this year. While there's no big diamond bash this year, Margrethe did cause a minor sensation by calling a State Council Dinner in March 2017 - an event so rare that rumours of abdication began to swirl. But given that Margrethe has said she will never abdicate, and that she loves a big do, there were perhaps no real surprises when it turned out she was just hosting dinner. Popular and successful, Margrethe never shies away from letting everyone know just who rules this royal house.

Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg is 62 on April 16th
It's been a year of ups and downs for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg who shares a birthday with Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Henri has welcomed a new grandchild (his third grandson, Liam, was born in November 2016 ) but he's also seen one of his children go through the sadness of divorce as third son, Prince Louis, parted with his wife of ten years, Tessy.  Henri Albert Gabriel Felix Marie Guillaume was born on April 16th 1955 in Betzdorf, Luxembourg. He was the second child and first son of Jean, then Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and his wife, Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium. He became his country's heir in 1964 on the accession of his father, married Maria Teresa Mestre y Battista in 1981, and in 2000 he became Grand Duke when Jean abdicated. He will mark the 17th anniversary of his reign on October 7th this year.
(photo Cour Ducale/ Lola Velasco)

Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is 91 on April 21st

The princess who was never expected to wear a crown is now the longest reigning monarch Britain has ever known and has a place in history all of her own. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21st 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, London. Her parents were Albert and Elizabeth, then Duke and Duchess of York who became King and Queen in 1936 on the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII. As Princess Elizaberth, she was heir to the throne for sixteen years before her father died, at the age of just 56. She became Queen Elizabeth II on February 6th 1952 and on September 9th 2015 she overtook the record set by her great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, as Britain's longest reigning monarch. In April last year she became the first British monarch to reach the age of 90 while in February this year, she became the first  to celebrate 65 years on the throne.  The records keep on coming. Elizabeth II spent most of 2016 marking her 90th birthday so this year's celebrations will be low key in comparison. But still expect plenty of fuss for the Sapphire Queen as she marks another milestone. 

Willem-Alexander,  King  of the Netherlands is 50 on April 27th
Instead, the big April birthday in 2017 is that of Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, who marks his half century this month. The first male monarch of the Netherlands for over a century was born Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand on April 27th 1967 in Utrecht, the first child of the then heir to the Dutch throne, Princess Beatrix, and her husband. Prince Claus. When his mother became Queen of the Netherlands in 1980, Willem-Alexander became Prince of Orange, the first person to hold that title for almost a century. He ascended his country's throne on April 30th 2013 on the abdication of his mother and will mark four years as a king at the end of the month. But before then. there are plenty of birthday celebrations.  King's Day, on April 27th, will see Willem-Alexander and his family head to Tilburg and on April 28th, the King of the Netherlands has invited 150 people who share his birthday to dinner. For everyone else, there's a chance to visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam for free for fifty hours between April 28th and April 30th. That's a proper birthday celebration.

Carl XVI Gustaf,  King of Sweden is 71 on April 30th

 Last year, King Carl XVI Gustaf had plenty of royal relatives round as he notched up three score years and ten. This time round, Europe's longest reigning king will keep it more low key but he's still got plenty to celebrate.  For the monarch who, in his early years, presided over a succession made up of one, older uncle, has just found out he's to welcome a sixth grandchild later this year and see Sweden's line to the throne bumped up to nine. CarlGustaf Folke Hubertus of Sweden was born on April 30th 1946 at the Haga Palace, Solna . His parents, Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sybilla, already had four daughters but the birth of their baby boy was much longed for as girls had no succession rights in Sweden at the time. When Carl Gustaf was just nine months old his father was killed in a plane crash and when his grandfather became Gustaf VI Adolf, in 1950, this April royal baby became Crown Prince of Sweden. He held that role for 23 years until the death of his grandfather and he ascended Sweden's throne on September 15th 1973. In September he will mark his 43rd anniversary as king - around the same time that his new grandchild is due. A birthday of September 15th for the latest royal baby would put the seal on a reign that has secured the succession and changed the Swedish monarchy forever.


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