Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Tragedy of Albert I

I have always found the story of Albert's death deeply upsetting. After all his heroism in war and peace, who would not have wished him a long, happy, tranquil life? 1934 ought to have been a year of rejoicing. The King was soon to celebrate his Silver Jubilee... but, instead, a frightful fate was in store for him and a dark period lay ahead for Belgium.
The new King and Queen. Leopold looks so sad here! In her memoirs, Astrid's friend Anna Sparre tells of how the princely couple (who had been vacationing in Switzerland at the time of the King's death) spent the return journey to Brussels weeping uncontrollably. She also describes Leopold's shattered emotional state, and Astrid's heroic efforts to support him, in these terrible moments. As Queen Elisabeth was also prostrate with grief, the task of preparing for Albert's funeral fell, in large measure, to Astrid.
The sadness of a loving daughter-in-law...Astrid at Albert's funeral. She almost seems to personify Belgium's mourning.

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