Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Touching Letter

On September 8, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Prince Leopold of Belgium wrote a poignant letter to his father, King Albert I. Leopold and his siblings had been sent to safety in England, and were staying with Lord Curzon at Hackwood; Albert was in Antwerp, under German siege. 

Mon bien cher Papa,

Je pense tant à vous. J'ai lu avec certaine frayeur qu'on bombarde la ville d'Anvers. Heureusement que les bon Anglais sont là, avec leur gros canons de marine.

Comme j'aimerais avoir dix ans de plus, pour être à côté de vous. Ma pensée cependant est toujours avec vous. Tous les soirs, je prie le Bon Dieu qu'il nous aide et nous fasse bien vite rentrer près de vous.

Cher Papa, c'est mon plus grand désir depuis que nous nous sommes quittés. 

Je vous embrasse bien cher Papa. 

Votre Léopold qui vous aime beaucoup, beacoup. 


My very dear Papa,

I think so much of you. I read, with real terror, that the Germans are bombarding the city of Antwerp. Luckily, the nice English are there, with their big navy canons. 

How I wish I were ten years older, to be at your side! Yet my thoughts are always with you. Every evening, I pray God to help us and bring us back to you very soon.  

Dear Papa, this has been my greatest desire, since we have been separated. 

I kiss you, dearest Papa.

Your Leopold who loves you very, very much. 

(Cited in Léopold III by Vincent Dujardin, Mark van den Wijngaert, et al., 2001)
Despite his wish that he were "ten years older," so that he could remain with his father during the war, it only, in fact, took one year, before Leopold insisted on returning to Belgium to join the army. 

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