The Countess of Flanders with her four children: Baudouin, Henriette, Josephine and Albert (on his mother's knee). I have posted on Princess Marie before; she was a strong, religious and artistic woman. She was a loving wife and mother, but very strict and proper, although later, as a grandmother, she was much more indulgent. Albert always spoke of her with great regard, but seems to have found her extreme conservatism too restricting, especially in his youth. He was attracted to liberal tutors whose opinions were diametrically opposed to hers, and felt he needed to break free of her "pietistic" outlook. He also commented: "My mother is a saint, but a saint of ice!"
Baudouin and Henriette, the two eldest siblings in the family. They were very close and Henriette, in her diary, portrayed Baudouin as nothing less than a saint. Their mother was more critical of him, complaining of a certain weakness or lack of energy in his character. Nonetheless, most accounts of Baudouin paint a picture of a gifted, conscientious youth, pious and despising worldly vanities. Henriette and her mother were both deeply upset by Baudouin's early death and the subsequent efforts of gossip-mongers to besmirch his reputation. In response, the saddened Countess of Flanders paid tribute to the "pure memory" of her child.
I love this photograph of a little Henriette. The future Duchesse de Vendôme, staunch and opinionated royalist historian of France, already looks so decided!
Josephine and Albert, the two youngest siblings in the family, also very close to each other, like their older counterparts. Josephine and Albert were the "modern" element in the family, according to Albert's daughter Marie-José. Josephine, who eventually became a nun, would outlive her parents and all her siblings, dying in 1958. In her old age, she fascinated Princess Lilian, the second wife of her nephew, King Leopold III, with her memories of the distant past.
A postcard of Philippe and Marie, their daughters Henriette (top right) and Josephine (bottom left) and their son Albert, with their respective spouses, Prince Emmanuel d'Orléans, Duc de Vendôme, Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern and Elisabeth, Duchess in Bavaria. Afflicted by deafness, and, perhaps, harmed by his lack of an active public life, the Count of Flanders became quite a difficult character. It's said that Albert actually had a better relationship with his uncle Leopold than with his own father. Philippe also didn't like Elisabeth, apparently. During the courtship of Albert and Elisabeth, the Count made disparaging remarks about the romance, and about his son's bride, complaining, for instance, that she was too short! This may sound unkind, but, on the whole, I think Philippe and Marie were a good couple; they were not perfect people but they had a solid marriage and home life and raised four very admirable children.