Ursula von der Leyen Facts/ First Female German Defence Minister
Ursula von der Leyen was the first female Federal Minister of Defence in Germany (2013-2019 ) and is the current President of the European Commission (elected on 16 July 2019). Find out more about one of the most influential women in Europe through the following personal facts.
1. Ursula von der Leyen has Seven Children
Ursula von der Leyen and her husband Heiko von der Leyen have seven children – five girls and two boys. Their eldest son David was born in 1987, her youngest daughter Gracia in 1999. Because of her seven pregnancies and the following nursing periods, she doesn’t drink alcohol anymore.
2. She Grew up in Belgium
Ursula von der Leyen’s father Ernst Albrecht was working for the EU Commission in Brüssel before becoming the Prime Minister of the German state Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). She was born in Brussels and also attended the European School. The family moved to Germany when she was around 12 years old. Due to her childhood in Belgium and her studies in the US, she speaks fluent French, German and English.
3. Ursula von der Leyen is from a Wealthy Family
Her father Ernst Albrecht was the son of the famous internal specialist Carl Albrecht and great-great-grandson of the merchant Baron Ludwig Knoop (one of the most successful industrialists of the 19th century).
4. Her Great-Grandmother was American
One of her great-grandmothers was Mary Ladson Robertson from Charleston. In 1978, von der Leyen was living under the pen name Rose Ladson. She explained the reason in an interview with the German newspaper ZEIT: in the late seventies, she studied economics in Göttingen without much success. At that time, threats from the RAF (a former German terror organization) were very acute, and there was a broad sympathy scene for them at Göttingen University. The State Criminal Police Office advised her father, the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, to persuade her to change universities. She was then faced with the decision to either go to Braunschweig with personal security around the clock – or to change her name and go to London to the London School of Economics.
5. Ursula von der Leyen Worked as a Gynaecologist Before Starting a Political Career
Ursula von der Leyen studied medicine from 1980 until 1987 at the Hannover Medical School (MHH). She then worked as an assistant doctor at the MHH Women’s Hospital. In 1991 she received her doctorate as Dr. med. In 1994, she quit her specialist training after the birth of her twins.