Friday, January 7, 2011

The Queen's Flower

Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians loved flowers. Her children brought her a little bouquet every morning. It was said that the edelweiss had played some humble part in the courtship of Albert and Elisabeth, and many years later, the mountaineering King would still tenderly, bashfully present his wife with bundles of these alpine blossoms. After her husband's fatal accident, a devastated Elisabeth strewed his deathbed with lilies and decreed that snowdrops should be gathered every year and scattered upon his tomb, since he had been happiest amidst the snows of the high Alps (see Wanda Larson, Elisabeth: A Biography: From Bavarian Princess to Queen of the Belgians, 1997). Here is a touching contemporary account, from the early years of the reign of Albert and Elisabeth, linking the Queen's love of flowers to her love of her people:
Since the accession of her husband to the throne of Belgium, in 1910, the young Queen has suffered much from delicate health, and was for a time in rather a dangerous condition. The adoration with which the people regard her was manifested in the affectionate demonstration which they made when the Queen drove out for the first time after her illness. It seemed as though all Brussels had come out to pay her loving homage.
But, though unable for a time to visit amongst the poor and take an active part in philanthropic work, the Queen had inspired such love in the people that the flower which she chose for her name-day-June 30 - was made the means of obtaining funds to help forward a cause dear to the heart of the Queen. Last year the little wild rose was named as the Queen's flower, and all through the towns and villages of Belgium the people wore the bloom. The proceeds from the sales were given to support the campaign against tuberculosis. The flower was sold at a penny, and some two hundred thousand francs were realised.
This year (1911) La Fleur de la Reine is the edelweiss, and the sale has been taken up with enormous enthusiasm. The favour is an artificial representation of the white, star-like flower, and attached to it is a ribbon with a tiny portrait of the Queen. The proceeds are to be devoted to fighting the terrible ravages made by that awful disease, the sleeping sickness, which is the scourge of the Congo. 

4 comments:

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Matterhorn! I can't think of anything more preciously romantic than being offered alpine blossoms, considering how rare and beautiful they are-I think if I were to compare, they're the 'gems' of flowers. I've spotted few patches on the Italian Dolomites and was told that it is now forbidden to pick them. Love this post:)

Matterhorn said...

Yes, the King was a real romantic!

It's always lovely to hear from you.

Ms. Lucy said...

...My blogging has been sporadic- but I love to visit whenever I can:) Have a blessed Sunday!

Matterhorn said...

Thank you, same to you!