Her Majesty the Queen was born in Uccle on 20 January 1973. She is the daughter of Count and Countess Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz.
She attended primary school in Bastogne and secondary school in Brussels, before studying speech therapy and psychology. The Queen worked as a speech therapist from 1995 to 1999.
She married Prince Philippe on 4 December 1999 and they had four children: a daughter Elisabeth (2001), now Duchess of Brabant, two sons Gabriël (2003) and Emmanuel (2005), and another daughter Eléonore (2008). As the mother of four young children, the Queen attaches great importance to her family.
The Queen assists the King in carrying out his functions as Head of State. These include numerous visits to institutions, contacts with the population, ceremonies in Belgium and abroad, state visits, promoting Belgium's image abroad, audiences with representatives of various groups in society and countless trips all over the country.
Apart from her activities in the company of the King, the Queen also devotes time to issues that are close to her heart. She regularly visits social institutions and medical centres. These contacts help her to stay in touch with the people and their needs and requirements and with the many initiatives undertaken in Belgium to help others. The Queen attaches a great deal of importance to close contact with the population.
The Queen deploys the Queen's Charities to offer help to citizens who are struggling to cope with financial hardship in their daily lives and often turn to her as a last resort. She takes part in the social debate on subjects of relevance to the population. She has a particular concern for vulnerable people. As Honorary President of the Queen Mathilde Fund, the Queen endeavours to assist the weakest members of our society.
The Queen is Honorary President of Child Focus, Foundation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children. Children’s well-being is for Her a fundamental principle and she dedicates herself in the fight against abduction and all forms of sexual abuse.
The Queen is also concerned with a range of social issues including education, child poverty, intergenerational poverty, the position of women in society and literacy. The Queen is Honorary President of UNICEF Belgium and of the Breast International Group (a non-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world). She was the World Health Organisation Europe's Special Representative for Immunisation.
As from 2014 the Queen has given Her High Paronage to the Internaional Queen Elisabeth Music Competition founded in 1937 as an initiative of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth and Belgian composer and violist Eugène Ysaÿe.
The Queen is a member of the Schwab Foundation Board for Social Entrepreneurship. She was a United Nations Emissary for the International Year of Microcredit 2005, which focused in particular on financial inclusion and financial literacy. The Queen also attends the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
Belgian development cooperation is an important issue for the Queen. She has undertaken a number of humanitarian missions (mainly in Africa), highlighting areas such as children's rights, health issues, poverty reduction, education, good governance, the empowerment of women, HIV/AIDS and orphans (UNICEF/UNAIDS), and non-communicable diseases.
The Queen is a greater believer in lifelong learning and as one of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders has attended a number of leadership courses at the Harvard Kennedy School and Yale University.
Besides Dutch and French, the Princess speaks English, Italian and some Spanish.
The Queen has a broad interest in art and dance. She likes modern as well as classical music and plays the piano. She also loves literature. She is a keen cyclist, tennis player and swimmer, and enjoys nature and outdoor activities.