Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium

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Princess Marie-Esméralda
Lady Moncada
S.A.R. la Princesse Maria-Esméralda de Belgique.jpg
Born (1956-09-30) 30 September 1956 (age 62)
Stuyvenberg Castle, Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
IssueAlexandra Moncada
Leopoldo Moncada
Full name
French: Marie-Esméralda Adelaide Lilian Anne Léopoldine
FatherLeopold III of Belgium
MotherMary Lilian Baels

Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, Lady Moncada (Marie-Esméralda Adelaide Lilian Anne Léopoldine; born 30 September 1956) is a member of the Belgian Royal Family and the aunt of King Philippe of Belgium. Princess Marie-Esméralda is a journalist, author and documentary-maker, she is also an environmental activist and a campaigner for women’s rights and indigenous people’s rights.


Princess Marie-Esméralda is the youngest child of the late Leopold III of Belgium and his second wife, Lilian Baels, Princess of Réthy.[1]

Her full siblings are the late Prince Alexandre of Belgium and Princess Marie-Christine of Belgium, her half-siblings include the late King Baudouin of Belgium, former King Albert II of Belgium (who is also Marie-Esmeralda's godfather), and the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg.

Personal life[edit]

Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium married Sir Salvador Moncada, a Honduran-British pharmacologist, in London on 5 April 1998, they have a daughter, Alexandra Leopoldine Moncada (born in London on 4 August 1998), and a son, Leopoldo Daniel Moncada (born in London on 21 May 2001).


Princess Marie-Esméralda is a journalist and author, writing under the name Esmeralda de Réthy. After studying law at the Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles, she graduated in journalism at Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve and then moved to Paris to pursue her career, working as free lance for international magazines, her book "Christian Dior, the Early Years 1947-1957" focused on the career of Christian Dior and was published in 2001 by Vendome Press.[2] Esmeralda then went on to write several books about her late father King Leopold III using archival material such as letters and photos, her book "Léopold III, mon père" was published in 2001, followed in 2006 by "Léopold III photographe" both published by Racine. [3] In these books, she doesn’t discuss the Belgian royal family but focuses on her father’s expeditions, his passion for Nature, science and photography. In 2011, Esmeralda published another book entitled "Terre, agissons pour la planete, il n’est pas trop tard" (Earth – Act Now to Save our Planet. It’s not too Late)[4] which discussed the importance of protecting the environment. (Racine) One year later, her mother Lilian was the subject of "Lilian, une princesse entre ombres et lumière" which she co-wrote with Patrick Weber (Racine). [3] In 2014, she wrote about her grandparents "Albert and Elisabeth" with Christophe Vachaudez. (Racine)[5] In the same year, Esmeralda published a book about female Nobel Peace Prize winners called "Femmes prix Nobel de la Paix". (Avant-Propos)[6]


She has produced three documentaries directed by Nicolas Delvaulx and broadcast by the Belgian channel RTBF "Leopold III, my father"[7] "In the footsteps of King Albert and Queen Elizabeth, my grandparents" (2014)[8] "Virunga" (2016).[9]


Environmental issues[edit]

Princess Marie-Esméralda dedicates a lot of her time to environmental issues, she has given many talks and written many articles as well as a book called "Terre, agissons pour la planete, il n’est pas trop tard" (Earth – Act Now to Save our Planet. It’s not too Late),[4] she has taken part in high-profile campaigns such as the Antarctica Greenpeace one in 2015.[10] In her documentary with Nicolas Delvaulx called "Virunga" in 2016,[9] she highlights the significance of the park because of its exceptional diversity and sustainable development. Thanks to the work the Virunga Foundation does, local people living around the park have access to clean energy from hydroelectric plants – and to jobs. Marie-Esméralda is the President of King Leopold III Fund for Nature Exploration and Conservation since the death of her father in 1983.

Women's rights[edit]

Marie-Esméralda takes part in a lot of women's rights' conferences. In December 2013, she participated in a feminist play in Brussels called "Blessées à mort" ("Wounded to Death")[11] written by Italian author Serena Dandini, she read a monologue on stage called "Fleur de Lotus" (Lotus Flower). In March 2015, alongside Eve Ensler, she took part in a forum called "Jump" to promote gender equality internationally.[12]

Indigenous people's rights[edit]

In 1989, she supported Chief Raoni’s campaign to protect the Amazonian forest with the help of internationally-renowned singer Sting. King Leopold had met Raoni in 1964. [13] In 2011, while Europalia Brasil was taking place, Marie-Esméralda met a delegation of Mehinako Indians; the following year, the Mehinako Indians honoured the memory of the late King Leopold III in Xingu Park in a special ceremony. The only white people who have been recognised in the past along with their ancestors are the Vilas Boas brothers– founders of Xingu Park.[14] In December 2015 at the Cop21 in Paris, Marie-Esméralda met members of the Kichwa tribe from Sarayaku in Ecuador; the Leopold III Fund has financed one of their projects.[10] In July 2016, the princess visited the tribal group Xerente at Porteira in Brazil, she received a special welcome during a traditional ceremony.[15] In Brasilia, she officially opened an exhibition of her father's photographs, she gave a speech highlighting the importance of protecting and promoting indigenous rights in the presence of the famous Indian Chief Alvaro Tukano.[16] In December 2016, at the COP22 in Marrakesh, she took part in some events organised by the WECAN International Association, their aim is to support indigenous women who are protecting the environment.[17] In September 2017, Marie-Esméralda became the Patron of the Campaign for the Amazonian Forest launched by the Association Movement Actions across the World.

Health-related issues[edit]

She is also a Patron of The Princess Lilian Foundation which was established in 1958 by her late mother,[18] its initial objective was to send Belgian children to the United States if they had a serious heart condition and needed surgery. In the seventies, the foundation focused on organising high-level scientific meetings. Since the death of Princess Lilian, the foundation has created a visiting Professorship. In 2008, she spoke at a conference on mental health and well-being at the European community in Brussels.[19] Maria-Esmeralda is the Honorary President of Care Belgium, she was the Honorary President of Delphus until 2017, an association offering autistic children a week of assisted therapy with dolphins every year.[18][7]


  • Christian Dior, the early years 1947-1957. Vendome Press, New York, 2001.
  • Léopold III, mon père. Editions Racine, 2001.
  • Léopold III photographe. Editions Racine, 2006.
  • Terre. Editions Racine, 2011.
  • With Patrick Weber. Lilian, une princesse entre ombre et lumière. Editions Racine, 2012.
  • With Christophe Vachaudez. Albert et Elisabeth. Editions Racine, 2014.
  • Femmes prix Nobel de la Paix. Editions Avant-Propos, 2014.


  • Léopold III mon père. 90 minute documentary by Nicolas Delvaulx for RTBF.
  • Sur les pas du roi Albert Ier et de la reine Elisabeth mes grands-parents (2014) 140 minute documentary by Nicolas Delvaulx for RTBF.
  • Virunga, de l’espoir pour tout un peuple by Nicolas Delvaulx.

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium
Lesser arms of the Royal House of Belgium.svg
Reference styleHer Royal Highness
Spoken styleYour Royal Highness
Alternative styleMadame
  • 30 September 1956 – 4 April 1998: Her Royal Highness Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium
  • 4 April 1998 – 2010: Her Royal Highness Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, Mrs Moncada
  • 2010 – present: Her Royal Highness Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, Lady Moncada



  1. ^ "HRH Princess Liliane of Belgium", Daily Telegraph, 10 June 2002. Retrieved 10 August 2014
  2. ^ "L'Eventail" magazine,April 2000, page 2-10
  3. ^ a b "Majesty" magazine, vol.36 #12 December 2015 page 26-32
  4. ^ a b "Esméralda de Belgique".
  5. ^ Esmeralda de Belgique Christophe Vachaudez. "Albert et Elisabeth | Éditions Racine" (in French). Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Femmes prix Nobel de la paix - Avant-Propos".
  7. ^ a b "Royals" magazine, February 2010, page 54
  8. ^ "Point of view" magazine,week 12-18,2014 page 28-29
  9. ^ a b "La Princesse Esmeralda de Belgique filme le Parc des Virunga - Parc National des Virunga". 2 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Paris Match" magazine, 26 November-2 December 2015, page 5-12
  11. ^ "Esmeralda de Belgique à la soirée "Blessées à mort" - Noblesse & Royautés". 12 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Her Royal Highness Princess Esmeralda of Belgium - Jump Promoting gender equality, advancing the economy".
  13. ^ "L'Eventail" magazine, April 2000, page 2-10
  14. ^ "Paris Match" magazine, 28 July-3 August 2016 page 16-18
  15. ^ "Princesa da Bélgica visita aldeia e é batizada por indígenas no Tocantins". 6 July 2016.
  16. ^ Name * (20 June 2014). "Maria-Esmaralda of Belgium, the princess we miss – Embassy Brasília". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Esmeralda de Belgique au Salon "Ecrire l'Histoire" - Noblesse & Royautés". 22 November 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Meet the team - Friendship UK Charity".
  19. ^ "Public Health Europe - European Commission - EU - European Commission". Retrieved 11 June 2018.