Belgian prince – a Stanford alum – returns to the Farm

Stanford President John Hennessy, third from the right, chats with His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium. They were joined by other Belgian government leaders and Jeff Wachtel, far right, senior assistant to President Hennessy. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News)


His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium visited Stanford on Friday as part of a weeklong economic mission to California.

It was a homecoming of sorts for the heir to the Belgian throne, who earned his master’s degree in political science from Stanford in 1985. He was joined on the visit by a delegation of Belgian government and business leaders, along with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium HOWARD GUTMAN.

The prince’s visit to Silicon Valley included meetings at Google, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard, among other stops. But before arriving at Stanford on Friday afternoon, he and his delegation made a detour to a Palo Alto sports bar to watch the Belgian soccer team defeat Serbia in a World Cup qualifying match.

On campus, the prince visited with University President JOHN HENNESSY and then walked to the Hoover Institution to explore World War I artifacts in the Hoover collection. Herbert Hoover, later the U.S. president, was instrumental in launching a food aid program at the outset of World War I to bring relief to civilian victims in Belgium after the country was invaded by Germany.

“Belgium always had a special place in Herbert Hoover’s heart,” said NICK SIEKIERSKI, Hoover Institution assistant archivist, who gave a presentation to the delegation on Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium and other connections between the U.S. president and the Belgian people.

The prince also mingled with Belgian students and faculty at a reception and browsed the Stanford Bookstore.

“It was two of the best years of my life,” he said, recalling his time at Stanford. “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.”

The prince visited the campus previously as part of a Belgian economic mission to the United States in 2003.