From an early age, Philippe of Belgium was groomed for one thing: to sit on his country's throne. Belgium, a country with a constitutional monarchy in which the royal family plays a largely ceremonial role, crowned Philippe its seventh king in 2013. The son of King Albert II and Queen Paola, Philippe was born in Brussels on April 15, 1960. As with most European royalty, Philippe's schooling was divided between time in the military and scholarship at some of the world's best institutions. Before becoming King, Philippe spent four years studying at the Royal Military Academy and trained in the Belgian Armed Forces as both a pilot and paratrooper. In his more than eight years on the throne, Philippe has overseen two government negotiations, has played a vital role in forging links between Belgian and foreign companies, and was instrumental in guiding Belgium through the coronavirus pandemic.
Philippe's place in the line of succession meant he received an appropriately rigorous and diverse education. After completing college in Belgium, he later studied constitutional history at Trinity College, Oxford, before enrolling at Stanford University as a graduate student. On June 16, 1985, he recieved his Master of Arts in Political Science from Stanford.
Since graduating, Philippe has visited his alma mater on multiple occasions. In one instance, in 2003, he was accompanied by his wife, Princess Matilda, during a campus visit meant to pay homage to Stanford's Hoover Institution – which has had close ties to Belgium since World War I, when a former Stanford University President launched an aid program. Together, the royals toured the campus and even set aside time to meet with a group of Belgian students at the University’s Bechtel International Center. In addition, Philippe visited Stanford in 2013, roughly a month before his coronation ceremony back home. His visit was part of a weeklong economic mission to California, and the future King reflected fondly on his time on the Farm. “It was two of the best years of my life,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much. The spirit that lives here at Stanford opened my mind and gave me so much confidence in myself. This was a cornerstone of my life, and I am very grateful for what I got here.”