Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Day in the Life

Here is a description of the Royal Family's austere life during the early years of the reign of Albert I, by M. Vital Plas, one of the tutors of the young Princes. In later years, the King and Queen only drank water in private and followed a vegetarian diet. The King also gave up smoking.
The King rose very early and walked in the park, after which he took a light breakfast between 7 and 8 A.M., and began to work. The Queen breakfasted somewhat later. Her children came to her about ten o'clock; they were in the habit of bringing her flowers, this at the King's suggestion...Luncheon was taken at twelve, en famille; some members of the royal household took part in it, and on occasions the King or the Queen invited a visitor who had been received in the morning...There were only two courses and dessert. The King always insisted on a separate course of vegetables which the children were obliged to eat, whether they liked it or not. "It is necessary for your health," he told them. They drank wine mixed with water, or beer, sometimes a glass of champagne, when there was a guest.
Coffee, smoking and talk followed, but the King never allowed the Queen to stay long, as she was ordered to rest for an hour. When she delayed he urged her to go, leading her by the shoulder to the door.
The King resumed work with his secretaries or one of the ministers, and gave audiences until dinner when he had no ceremony to attend. The Queen either received her friends or went to a concert, an art exhibition, a hospital, or visited the sick privately. When they lived at Laeken, which they much preferred to the Brussels palace, they returned as early as possible in the afternoon. The King used to take motor rides in the neighbourhood. Before or after dinner, he and the Queen would walk arm in arm in the park; they visited the children's gardens and the beehives which supplied the Palace with honey.
Dinner was served at seven-thirty; it was frugal and strictly intimate, neither strangers nor members of the household being invited. It was short and the children went to bed soon afterwards. When the parents had not to attend some theatre or concert, they spent the evening reading and retired early. Sometimes there was music. (Quoted by Emile Cammaerts in Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right, Macmillan Company, New York, 1935, pp. 402-403)

No comments: