Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tribute to Princess Lilian

Searching for a video clip of Queen Elisabeth, I instead stumbled upon this tribute to Princess Lilian, second wife of Leopold III. The photos definitely capture Lilian's glamor, dynamism, charm, and humor.

 A very strong personality, Lilian endured decades of violent personal attacks (in reality aimed at her husband, King Leopold, and at the monarchy in general) with remarkable courage and resilience. At one point, her step-son, King Baudouin, complained that the attacks were so vicious that other people, in her position, would have committed suicide.

Practically anything Lilian did was interpreted negatively. Even the deep affection between herself and her step-children, King Leopold's children by Queen Astrid, was turned against her. In her later years, she had to face rumors, fomented by one of Leopold's old political adversaries, Achille van Acker, that she had had an incestuous affair with her step-son, Baudouin, during his youth!  Lilian's response to this outrageous accusation reveals the strength and dignity of her character. With an ironic smile, she said: "Now they will not be able to invent anything else, because they could never fall any lower" (quoted by Michel Verwilghen in Le mythe d'Argenteuil). 

I do think that King Leopold looks rather ravaged in the later photos, which is no surprise.


Lucy said...

Very sad that many of these royal women are often so misunderstood.

May said...

Over and over again... nothing changes.

Brantigny said...

What language is that, It sounds Dutch but different some how. I don't speak Dutch, (but I have served with them).


May said...

Oh, I'm sorry but I don't know... I think it's probably Dutch, or Flemish, perhaps (like Lilian)?

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures. Thanks for posting this!

May said...

Thanks for the comment! Lovely to hear from you.