Sunday, January 18, 2009

Joseph Davies' View of King Leopold III

In June, 1938, Joseph E. Davies became American Ambassador to Belgium. During his tenure of office, which lasted until January, 1940, he had many long talks, covering both national and international issues, with King Leopold III of the Belgians, from which, Davies wrote: "I always came away with the moral intensity of his character." He has left us this impressive description of Leopold: 

In the King of the Belgians, I found a man whose marked characteristics were a magnificent and athletic physique, great seriousness of demeanor, unusual modesty, and a personality which indicated a quiet, resolute strength, and serious moral purpose. He was a hard worker, took all of his duties with the greatest of earnestness; was a clean-living man, whose reputation was above suspicion. His government was his all-absorbing business. He was not only the titular head, he was the actual leader of his government. Outside of his work and his family, his absorbing interest was mountain-climbing. He kept himself physically fit and always looked in the pink of condition. In my judgment he was an exceptionally able, serious, and strong man...

(Quoted by Roger Keyes in Outrageous Fortune: The Tragedy of Leopold III of the Belgians, 1984, p.74)

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