Marie-Christine spent the first nine years of her life at the Castle of Laeken, just outside Brussels, with her parents, siblings and half-siblings. At this stage, she was especially close to her eldest half-brother, King Baudouin; it is said that she suffered particularly bitterly from the politically imposed separation between her father's two families, after Léopold, Lilian and their children moved to Argenteuil, a state property near Waterloo. Nonetheless, Marie-Christine continued to lead a highly privileged existence. Like her siblings, she had the benefit of encountering many eminent personalities of political, scientific and cultural life, guests of her parents at Argenteuil. At times, she also accompanied her father, a keen and accomplished explorer, environmentalist and photographer, on his foreign travels. Her mother, known for her interest in medical science and desire to combat human suffering, established a pediatric foundation, named in honor of her eldest daughter. (This association, however, would later be absorbed by the Fondation Cardiologique Princesse Lilian.) Marie-Christine may have claimed that her mother never loved her; yet, whatever parenting mistakes Princess Lilian may have made, how could she not have been fond of this little blonde sprite, who so resembled her beloved husband, King Léopold? In fact, I find that some of the warmest images of Lilian are those picturing her with her eldest daughter.
In the past, I have discussed, in more detail, Princess Marie-Christine's estrangement from her family (see HERE and HERE), a trend apparently well underway by her teenage years. Her rupture with the rest of the Belgian dynasty has made her a controversial, polarizing figure. Many people, already prejudiced against the much-maligned Léopold and Lilian, accept Marie-Christine's embittered criticisms of her parents quite unreservedly. This is unfair, as it overlooks the much more positive experiences of the five other children raised by this unfortunate couple. Alternatively, admirers of the Belgian monarchy react to Marie-Christine's attacks on the royal family with indignation and hostility. Yet, in Charity, we must wish her only the best! Furthermore, whether she likes it or not, she is still a Princess of Belgium. Therefore, if we care about the Belgian royal family, we must care about her, too. Peace and blessings to Princess Marie-Christine +