In this Tuesday, July 17, 2008 file photo, Belgium's Queen Paola and King Albert II pose for photographers at the Royal Palace in Laeken, Belgium. Image Credit: AP

Brussels: Queen Paola, mother of King Philippe of Belgium, fell ill on a visit to Venice and will be flown home on Wednesday, royal officials said.

Paola, 81, suffered a stroke, according to Belgian and Italian media reports.

"Following a health problem, Her Majesty the Queen Paola will be repatriated to Belgium in the course of the day to undergo medical examinations," the Royal Palace said, in a one-line statement.

Queen Paola has already faced health problems. In September 2015, she was forced to respect a "total rest period" after heart trouble.

Injuries last year

In 2017 she also broke her hip less than two months after fracturing a vertebrae.

A native of Italy, Paola was queen of Belgium during the twenty years of the reign of her husband, King Albert II, who ruled from 1993 until his abdication in 2013.

Paola is best known to Belgians for importing a touch of Italian "dolce vita" to the Belgian monarchy in the 1960s, before becoming Queen after the sudden death of King Baudouin, Albert II's brother.

Born Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria, she spent her entire youth in Rome, where she met Prince Albert at the age of 21 at a reception held at the Belgian Embassy on the sidelines of Pope John XXIII's induction ceremonies.