Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Royal Scouts

Piet Kroonenberg discusses the involvement of two generations of Belgian royal children in the Scouts and Guides. Prince Baudouin, pictured above, was given the scouting name of "De Trouwe Eland," or "The Loyal Elk". 
King Albert I was killed during a rock climbing exercise in 1934 and as King Leopold III the Crown Prince took over. [1934-1951] -1983). He may never have been a Scout but he took a great interest in the movement. For his sons Boudewijn/Baudouin (1930 – 1993) and Albert (1934-today) a special Scout group was founded, as was a special Guide Company set up for this daughter the Princess Josephine-Charlotte. The official languages being Dutch, French and German and Belgium Scouting also being divided along religious lines, the men attracted to lead this group came from all the Belgium Scout Associations as did the Guiders. The boys and girls were collected from the nation’s all sections and classes. The Scout meetings were held in a hut in the Royal Park belonging to the Palace of Laeken, to the north of Brussels.
On May 1940 during World War II (1939-1945) the Armies of Nazi-Germany once more violated Belgium’s neutrality. Despite brave resistance the Belgium Army was no match to the motorized Germans and Belgium had to end the unequal struggle and had to surrender. Whereas the Netherlands, this time also attacked, got an SS administration, Belgium got a German army one, which was more lenient. Whereas the SS in the Netherlands banned, disbanded and persecuted all Scouting and Guiding activities from April 1941 onwards, the Belgium Scouts and Guides were more or less left alone. Yet during the course of the war, at the insistence of the Flemish and Walloon Nazis, collaborating with the Germans, certain limitations were imposed on the Scouts and Guides in early April 1943. The wearing of uniforms in public was no longer permitted. This having been done a high ranking German Staff officer hastened to visit King Leopold, who as a Prisoner of War, had been interned in his Royal Palace. The King was informed that this banning order did not involve the Royal Scout Group and Guide Company. The King did not agree and said that as this ban was put on all Scouts and Guides, it would also have to be applicable to his sons, daughter and their friends. The problem was that in those days Prince Bauduin/Boudewijn had just left the Cub Scouts and joined the Troop. End 1943 he was ready to make the Scout Promise. He asked his father to permit them to wear uniform that day, but the King refused his permission. His son protested and in the end the King gave in and decreed that during the ceremony and during it alone, uniform could be worn again.

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