Friday, March 8, 2013

Four Generations of the Belgian Royal Family

A dynastic portrait showing young, intense Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, the future Nurse-Queen of the Great War, with her sons, Prince Leopold, future Leopold III, and Prince Charles, the future Regent. Behind Elisabeth, from left to right, are her in-laws and patriarchs of the Belgian royal family, Leopold I, Leopold II, and her own husband, Prince Albert, future Albert I. The portrait commemorates the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence in 1905, and suggests that the new kingdom is entering the new century with confidence, pride and high hopes for the future. 

Of course, not all the figures appearing in the picture actually met in real life. Leopold I, the founder of the Belgian branch of the Saxe-Coburgs, died in 1865, ten years before Albert's birth and eleven years before Elisabeth's. Leopold II only overlapped briefly with his great-nephews, Leopold and Charles. In L'éducation d'un prince (1984), a collection of interviews with Leopold III, he describes only a few childhood memories of meeting the very controversial Leopold II, on holiday at the seaside in Ostende. The sensitive, rather fragile-looking little boy had a recollection of his stern, bearded great-uncle pinching him on the cheeks and telling him to eat heartily and get strong! Leopold III also remembered that his parents never spoke of the scandals in their uncle's personal life that gave rise to so much gossip in Belgium and beyond. 


emily said...

If Prince Amedeo and his wife have a child in the next few years, we could have a real photo covering four generations of Belgian royals!

May said...

Very true, Emily!