Monday, March 21, 2011

Winter Sports

King Albert I, Queen Elisabeth and Princess Marie-José. A biography of the King, published in Flemish and French, concludes with these words:
He was brave, upright, generous, straightforward, humane, possessing complete self-control. He was an excellent sportsman, and he never shrank from any challenge, no matter how great. Every guide and every mountaineer respected, appreciated, loved and admired him. He spoke with equal goodhumour and understanding to everyone whether shepherd, taxi-driver, or the republican guide Tita Piaz. He shunned crowds and loved to savour in peace the beauty of the mountains and the splendour of Alpine slopes. Mountaineering was the only real leisure King Albert I allowed himself.

King Leopold III and Queen Astrid.
Queen Astrid initiates Princess Joséphine-Charlotte into the sports every child of Scandinavian descent ought to be adept in...
Another shot of the happy mother and daughter.
Brother and sister: Prince Baudouin and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte. In her memoirs, Anna Sparre describes how Leopold and Astrid arranged for a fun and safe winter holiday for their two eldest children, then aged five and two, during the couple's tour of the Congo in 1933:
A new voyage was announced; an official visit to the Congo, this time. Princess Ingeborg was ill, and there was no question of entrusting the children to their grandparents. So they were placed in a well-reputed hotel in Gstaad, in Switzerland; they had already been there with their governess, as paying guests. Their parents knew they would be in good hands there: doctors, caretakers and teachers were at their disposal. Not to mention the good mountain air and the possibility to do skiing or skating with other children of the same age. The Princess brought them there herself, happy that no one knew how worried she was. She tried to convince herself that three months would pass swiftly. 
King of the slopes: the passion for skiing stayed with Baudouin all his life.

Princess Lilian proves herself to be truly one of the family.

5 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Hmm...looks and sounds like these children were quite in their element amidst snow and ice...long before 1939-1940, despite what a certain Flemish author has recently said...

Christina said...

The photos and extracts are beautiful and speak for themselves about what a happy, devoted family they were. It seems right, in a way, that King Albert's life ended in the mountains that he so loved.

Matterhorn said...

He probably would have preferred it to other kinds of death. He could not bear to be ill and when people worried about him having an accident in the mountains, he would say he took "all necessary precautions", but also: "Think of the tragedy of the death-bed".

Christina said...

A great man who literally left this life at the heights of all he had achieved. The mountains suited him so perfectly. Thank you for all your fascinating information about this family.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, it was beautiful, despite the tragedy.

Thank you for all your lovely comments!