Saturday, August 1, 2009

Loving Clementine

I have posted before on Princess Clementine (1872-1955), youngest daughter of King Leopold II. I am always in awe of her forbearance with an impossible father, notorious for his cold, harsh ways and scandalous private life. For years, the King prevented Clementine from marrying the choice of her heart, Prince Victor-Napoleon, Bonapartist claimant to the French throne. Meanwhile, despite her suffering, the Princess dutifully assisted her father in his public role. Her patience was rewarded, when, after Leopold's death, she was finally able (at age 38!) to marry her Prince. In her correspondence, Clementine's joy, as well as her wonderfully warm, affectionate heart, come to the fore. In glowing terms, she described Victor as "kind...sweet, adoring, loving, intelligent, knowledgeable..."

To her beloved sister, Stephanie, after her engagement, Clementine wrote:
You cannot imagine the depth of my happiness in answering to the love, the fidelity, and the happiness of the man who has remained at my side for many long years. God has looked upon my difficult situation and, in His power, has resolved everything.
After her wedding, she confided to Stephanie:
Napoleon, for Clementine, is a love, I adore him. During the day, I spend most of my time finding ways to please him, and the nights!... they are exquisite. I never thought this could be so good.
Clementine adored her children, too. Whenever she mentioned them, her profound maternal love (mixed with a gentle humor) shone through:
My daughter is happy, smiling, sweet. She is the image of her father. My son has a sweet nature, he is very endearing. He is intelligent and observant, he likes singing all day...but does not smile much when he has to study...
Given her parents' disastrous union, and her own glacial upbringing, Clementine's happy marriage and loving family life must have been all the more precious to her. In the light of this tragic background, her tender letters are especially touching.
(I found the excerpts from Clementine's letters HERE, the translations are mine).

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