History and Other Thoughts remembers the greatly maligned monarch with sympathy and affection.
I have a thing for misunderstood and mistreated historical figures, such as King Leopold III of Belgium, who also happens to be my favourite king ever. Although still a teenager when World War I broke out, Leopold, willing to do his part like everyone else, insisted to fight as a private soldier. After the war, he met Princess Astrid of Sweden. The two fell deeply in love, got married and had three children together. Then, tragedy struck. One day, while the royal couple was vacationing in Switzerland, Astrid lost her life in a car accident. Leopold, who had been driving, was inconsolable.
Politically, Leopold, who wanted what was best for Belgium, often clashed with politicians, who were more interested in furthering their careers than anything else. When World War II broke out, the government fled, but Leopold and his family stayed behind, sharing the privations and struggles of his people, and becoming prisoners of Hitler. During this time, he also married, Lilian Baels. Unfortunately their marriage, which produced three children, was spun, by Leopold's political enemies, in a way that portrayed him as a villain, thinking only of his happiness while his people were suffering.
The royal family was eventually moved to Germany were they were almost killed by the Nazis. After the war ended, the socialists and revolutionaries, eager to establish a republic, tried to prevent their comeback. Only after a referendum in his favour, was Leopold allowed back, but the political situation was so tense that he was forced to abdicate. I feel very sorry for him. He was a honest, upright and brave man who always strove to do his duty and put his people first. And yet, he had such a difficult life, marred by tragedy and attacked by political opponents who didn't hesitate to fabricate lies about him to gain power for themselves. It's a shame he has mostly been forgotten. He deserves everyone's admiration and respect. (Read more)