Friday, December 11, 2009
The Man Who Would Not Be King
Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was by no means the only candidate for the newly established Belgian throne in 1831. Prior to Leopold's election, for example, the Belgian National Congress offered the crown to Louis, Duc de Nemours, second son of King Louis-Philippe of France. During the Belgian Revolution, the Duc de Nemours had accompanied the French army that aided in the overthrow of Dutch rule. His eldest sister, Louise-Marie, would become Belgium's first queen consort in 1832. But imagine if the Orléans prince had become the country's first king? Belgium would likely have become a mere vassal of France. This is exactly the outcome the British feared. By threatening war if the Duc de Nemours became King of the Belgians, they compelled Louis-Philippe to decline the throne for his son.