...Je suis heureuse comme tout que tu reviens bientôt. Je t'embrasse de tout coeur. Embrasse notre petit chéri! Ta petite Loulou qui t'adore.
~Queen Astrid to King Leopold III, August 24, 1935, five days before her death, in a loving message quoted by Michel Verwilghen in Le mythe d'Argenteuil (2006)Today is the anniversary of the religious wedding of the future King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of the Belgians. On November 4, 1926, Prince Leopold of Belgium, eldest son and heir of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, had married Princess Astrid of Sweden, niece of King Gustav V, in a civil ceremony in Stockholm. On November 10, the religious wedding followed in Brussels. Both handsome, shy, sensitive, thoughtful, and noble people, Leopold and Astrid had fallen passionately in love. Since Astrid was still a Lutheran, however, a papal dispensation was required for the marriage, and the religious ceremony was limited to a blessing, rather than a Nuptial Mass. The princess also had to promise to raise her children in the Catholic Faith.
Both sons of Leopold and Astrid, Baudouin and Albert, would become Kings of the Belgians, while their daughter, Josephine-Charlotte, became Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. It is often claimed that Leopold and Astrid also had a fourth, unborn child, who perished together with his mother in the tragic car accident in Küssnacht-am-Rigi, Switzerland on August 29, 1935. Astrid's best friend, Anna Sparre, however, makes no mention of a pregnancy in her account of the queen's death. Apparently, the queen's namesake and biographer, Astrid Bammens, also discounts the rumor, and, certainly, there was never an official announcement of a pregnancy.
As I have discussed before, Astrid converted to Roman Catholicism four years after her marriage, in August, 1930, a month before the birth of her eldest son, Prince Baudouin. Astrid's childhood friend Anna Sparre relates in her memoir, Vännen min (1985), that the princess took her conversion deeply to heart, writing Anna a sober, sincere letter describing the ceremony and declaring that her decision to become a Catholic gave her peace of soul. Astrid also touchingly described her conversion, and her first Confession, in a letter to her mother, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, noting her happiness at finally being able to go to Communion with Leopold. Upon becoming engaged to the handsome Belgian prince, a delighted Astrid had written to her youthful religious educator and mentor, the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala, Nathan Söderblom, that Leopold's soul was even more beautiful than his appearance. Now, it seems, Astrid was glad to be more fully spiritually united to Leopold, by embracing his religion. It is comforting to think that the young woman who would suffer such a terrible death, only five years later, had attained such purity, peace and joy in her short life.