Sunday, February 15, 2009

Accession Speech of Albert I, 1909

King Albert on his accession day

Here are some excerpts from the accession speech of King Albert I. I think they provide interesting insights into his political goals and ideals.  

... Gentlemen, more and more the moment has come for Belgium to recognize her destiny and to look the facts of the future in the face. In the course of an existence of three-quarters of a century she has realized- surpassing the most optimistic previsions of her founders - that she is happy and that she is rich. But riches create responsibilities for countries, as for individuals. The intellectual and moral forces alone of a nation are the foundations of its prosperity.

It behooves us to prolong a brilliant era by embuing ourselves with the ideas and principles which are the tradition of the Belgians - the steadfast attachment to all our constitutional liberties, the love of our independence, wisdom and reasonableness in public affairs - it is thus that the Belgian people will maintain intact their sacred patrimony, created by the labor of so many generations. They will march on towards the pacific conquests of labor and service, while the artists and writers of Flanders and Wallonia will strew the way with their masterpieces... 

Gentlemen, I have a very clear conception of my duty...It is necessary that the Sovereign should hold himself with entire loyalty above all parties. It is necessary that he should be watchful for the maintenance of the vital forces of the nation. It is necessary that he should be ceaselessly attentive to the voice of the country, and be watchful with solicitude over the welfare of the poor. The Sovereign should be the servant of the law and the upholder of social peace. 

May God help me to fulfill this mission! As for myself, I shall always be ready to second the efforts of those who work for the grandeur of the country and who, filled with the spirit of concord and social advancement, raise the intellectual and moral level of the nation, develop education and instruction, and assure to the masses greater well-being.

I love my country; the Queen shares my sentiments of unalterable fidelity to Belgium; we imbue our children with them, and we awaken in them at the same time love of their native land, love of their family, love of labor, love of good. These are the qualities which render nations strong.

Gentlemen, the reception which has been given to me has touched me profoundly. I see in it a proof of confidence which honors me as well as sustains me. I will exert myself to merit it. In taking the constitutional oath, I swear to myself and to the country, to fulfill scrupulously my duties and consecrate all my forces and all my life to the service of the Fatherland. 

(Quoted by Evelyn Graham in Albert, King of the Belgians)

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