Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lilian's Last Wishes

When Princess Lilian died in 2002, she was interred with King Leopold III and Queen Astrid in the royal crypt of Laeken. This had been the King's wish; perhaps, by honoring his second wife in this way, he wanted to compensate her for all the insults she had suffered through the decades. Lilian, however, longed to be buried in her chapel at Argenteuil. To an intimate, she confided:
This is the first and only time I will disobey the King's wishes, but I think I have given enough. Since my marriage, I have been a prisoner. The Royal Question dragged me through the mud. All my life, I have shut myself up in silence. At least, after my death- and, please understand, for reasons which are my affair alone- let me not be shut up in the royal crypt.

(Quoted in French by Jacques Franck in Souvenirs de la Princesse Lilian, an article published in La Libre Belgique, October 29, 2003).
In her will, the Princess wrote:
As for my funeral, I desire that it take place among my intimate family, enlarged only by the close circle of those who have manifested, to His Majesty King Leopold III, to my children, and to myself, fidelity and attachment, assistance and devotion. I intend that it be preceded by a sober and contemplative Eucharistic celebration, stripped of particular pomp, in my royal chapel at Argenteuil, in the absence of all representatives of the press...

Notwithstanding the desire of His Majesty King Leopold III to have me rest by his side in the crypt of Laeken, I permit myself, here, to express my very firm wish to be buried at the foot of my royal chapel at the Estate of Argenteuil. I thus consider myself authorized to depart, for the first time, from the King's will.

(Quoted in French by Michel Verwilghen in Le mythe d'Argenteuil, 2006, p. 53)
As Argenteuil belonged to the Belgian state, the government had the final say in the matter, and did not respect Lilian's choice. Nonetheless, I find her last wishes very dignified and touching.


MadMonarchist said...

That's rather sad. Even after all of that her last wishes were not respected. However, I'm sure once it came to that she was in a place where earthly matters would never enter her mind.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed sad her last wishes were not respected. Why can't they be treated as a person in the end? Even King Leopold who wanted to be buried in England was also refused. Although I can understand why he was refused. But for someone as intelligent as he was and knowing how inappropriate it may look to even entertain that desire means that something is important to him about England. But where in England would he want to be buried? I can only recall in Caroline Bauer memoir where she mentioned thaT before Princess Charlotte's death she had gasped her last wished and asked that when Leopold's(I)time comes that he be buried next to her and indeed so much was hewn at charlotte's side to make space for Leopold and from what I read from Leopold instructions himself. I just wondered if Leopold I was remembering that promise as he lay dying thus saying Charlotte's name. It is known how much he loved her and it must be so painful for him knwoing he will not be beside her.It maybe a last appeal to his ministers. Who knows. As for King Leopold and his 2 wives I am also not sure why. But it feels odd to have a trio in there. It really for me seem right to only have King Leopold III and Queen Astrid in there. Partly because they are the ones who are the direct ancestors of the royal family.

May said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment! I agree, it is sad, but I think the government insisted on Lilian being buried at Laeken because they wanted to erase all the traces of Leopold III"s time at Argenteuil. They made sure to make it impossible for there to be any memorial to Leopold and Lilian on the estate.