Thursday, November 26, 2009

Princess Lilian Through Her Son's Eyes

The birthday of Lilian Baels, second wife of King Leopold III, is coming up in a few days...Here is an interesting tribute to this beautiful, talented, but much-maligned woman by her son, Prince Alexandre Emmanuel.
Princess Lilian was a secret person but enjoyed listening to people who sometimes forgot they were confiding to her. But there is an indirect way to understand her personality. For many years, more than I can recall, she enjoyed the environment of objects, even works of art, that expressed a certain quality of life. Wherever we lived, she created a sort of "impregnation of space" that gave the visitor an impression of evidence and uniqueness. Argenteuil is certainly the home where she invested the most energy and spirituality. In a way, it was like a signature.
(Preface to the catalogue Princess Lilian of Belgium. Château d'Argenteuil. Amsterdam, Sotheby's, 2003)
Unfortunately, I do not have any good pictures of Argenteuil I can post here, but, to gain a vivid impression of the elegant environment Lilian created, click HERE. The article (a review of Michel Verwilghen's excellent book Le mythe d'Argenteuil) is in French but photos speak across language barriers...


MadMonarchist said...

I'm sure such sentiments from her son would have mattered more to her than all the criticism of strangers put together. The Princess also displayed one of the qualities of a genteel lady which is to endure the ignorant with grace.

May said...

True, she is said to have cared more about the love and friendship of a few close people than about large-scale popularity. Still, it must have hurt to be attacked so relentlessly for decades. She said whenever she read or heard something about herself she would often find herself wondering "who are they talking about? I don't recognize myself."