Here we see King Albert I of Belgium with his daughter, Marie-José, the future Queen of Italy, during the First World War. The little Princess adored her father.
It is touching to see how the King, despite the innumerable preoccupations of war, took care to attend to his paternal role. In her memoirs, Marie-José quotes a few letters he sent her during this period. With gentleness, with the noble simplicity for which he was famous, he sought to assist her in her moral and religious growth.
In 1915, the King wrote to his daughter, then 9 years old, while she was in a convent school in England:
"Il faut être sage et bien travailler. Quand on fait ce qu'on doit, on sert le Bon Dieu et on est heureux dans la vie...Ici il n'y rien de nouveau. La guerre est terrible et dure longtemps. Il faut prier pour qu'elle cesse bientôt.""You must behave well and do good work. When one does one's duty, one serves the good God and one is happy in life... Here there is nothing new. The war is terrible and drags on. We must pray that it end soon."
As the date of Marie-José's First Communion approached, in 1916:
"Prépare-toi avec soin pour ta Première Communion, c'est un grand jour de ta vie. Moi, je me rappelle toujours ma Première Communion comme un heureux événement de mon existence.""Prepare yourself with care for your First Communion, it is a great day of your life. I still remember my First Communion as a happy event in my life."
Marie-José returned to Belgium for her First Communion. As the day of the ceremony drew near, the King, with great care, personally instructed her in the catechism. Yet, she later recalled, overwhelmed by the joy of seeing her father, she could not attend to his words.
During the tragic years of the war, Marie-José's tender affection was surely a great consolation to her father.