Friday, March 26, 2010

The Melancholy of Albert I

An interesting anecdote from Charles d'Ydewalle's Albert and the Belgians: Portrait of a King illustrates all the King's sad and ironic skepticism.
The truth is, that he never appreciated the glorious adventure of his life. Again and again he would mutter between his teeth: "My people do not love me."
One Sunday he started off by car for the fêtes that were being held in a certain town. As they drove along, the King began to confide in his aide-de-camp, and the dialogue began: "The people of not like me. In my heart of hearts, I don't know why I'm going. On a Sunday, too. There won't be a soul there. They'll all be out in the country. The only people who will be there are the officials who hope to get a decoration."
The King arrived. The bells pealed. The roads were thronged, the balconies were thronged, the very roofs were thronged. The crowd of officials performed their duties adequately, and everything went swimmingly. The King saluted, his face impassive, almost indifferent, and left, after having voiced his thanks and congratulations to all. On the way back, the conversation was resumed.
"Happily, Your Majesty was mistaken. There was a huge crowd."
To which the King, buried in a corner of the car, replied, in a semi-serious tone: "Yes, there will be a similar crowd when I am led to the scaffold."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A New Discovery

I was excited to discover that, apparently, there is, after all, a third volume of Princess Henriette's account of Marie-Amélie's life, continuing the story to 1830. I hope to be able to have a look at it before writing the final post in the series on Marie-Amélie. It should be interesting to see how the reign of Charles X and the infamous July Revolution are treated...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Louis-Philippe: A Villain?

I used to take a negative view of Louis-Philippe, due mostly to his troubling taking of the throne from his cousins during the July Revolution of 1830. Amidst tumult and tragedy,  Charles X attempted to abdicate in his grandson's favor and charged Louis-Philippe, as regent, to proclaim the little boy's accession. Ignoring these instructions, however, Louis-Philippe had himself proclaimed king in the child's place. I tended to dismiss him as a treacherous usurper, an unscrupulous villain.

Recently, however, I have been reconsidering this view. We do have to explain why a noble, wise woman like Marie-Amélie would love Louis-Philippe so deeply. From the beginning of their romance, she praised him in the highest terms, calling him good, virtuous, admirable, loyal, upright. We also have to explain why the Neapolitan sovereigns, who had every reason to consider Louis-Philippe an enemy, allowed their daughter to marry him. They must have sensed goodness in the young man. The Queen, for her part, clasped his face between her hands and looked long and hard into his eyes. Finally, she told him she ought to detest him, as he had fought for republican France, but she could not help liking him. "Tell me the whole of your role in the Revolution," she stipulated, "I forgive all in advance, on condition of knowing all."

In tracing Marie-Amélie's life, Princess Henriette of Belgium forcefully defends Louis-Philippe, whom she felt legitimists had treated unfairly. During the Bourbon Restoration, she contends, the Duc d'Orléans, who had loyally rallied to the idea of monarchy, sincerely desired to serve king and country, and could have been a splendid help to the royal family, had he not been constantly calumniated by their entourage. According to Henriette, Marie-Amélie suffered deeply from the incessant attacks on her husband, since she knew they were unjustified; Louis-Philippe may have been a liberal, he may have disagreed with the senior Bourbons, but he harbored no treacherous designs to foment revolution or usurp the throne. Henriette attributes such rumors to malicious attempts to sow the seeds of discord in the royal family. In 1830, she asserts, Louis-Philippe did not take the throne out of ambition, but out of a genuine concern to spare France the horrors of yet another revolution.  The danger was that a regency of Louis-Philippe might be impossible, as the revolutionaries might not accept another descendant of the elder branch of the royal family as king.

Henriette's assessment of Louis-Philippe, as a man of integrity, courage and patriotism, coincides with the impressive testimonies of his wife, Marie-Amélie, and his eldest daughter, Louise, Queen of the Belgians. Their letters are full of touching expressions of love, esteem and veneration for Louis-Philippe. Naturally, family loyalty is undoubtedly at work here (and even in Henriette's account), but nonetheless, these ladies were privileged witnesses. In 1848, after the February Revolution had driven the Orléans into exile, Marie-Amélie wrote sorrowfully to Louise: "(M)y heart breaks to think of the ingratitude and injustice of men. Your father was not ambitious for this slippery (throne). He had accepted it to save France from the misfortunes she is suffering from now. He had used it for these 18 years to render her happy and prosperous, amidst repeated attempts on his life and, at the end of all this, to reward his self-sacrifice, in his old age: calumny, exile, proscription, despoliation." In 1850, after Louis-Philippe's death in England, Louise, deeply afflicted by his loss and by the scornful criticism of the late king in the British press, wrote: "I have lost the best of Fathers and my consolation is that his end was painless, gentle, Christian, courageous, worthy of his life and of his heart, so great and so true, and- alas! - so little known."

I am no expert on Louis-Philippe, but I think that such deeply felt testimonies, coming from those who knew him best, ought to be taken seriously. This is not to say, though, that taking the throne from the legitimate heir did not disturb Marie-Amélie's conscience. Becoming queen was certainly a troubling tragedy for her, as I hope to explore further, in a final post on this remarkable lady.

(to be continued)


La jeunesse de Marie-Amélie reine des Français, d'après son journal. 1935.
Le journal de Marie-Amélie, Duchesse d'Orléans:1814-1822. 1938.
Kerckvoorde, Mia. Louise d'Orléans, reine oubliée. 1991.
Lassère, Madeleine. Louise reine des Belges: 1812-1850. 2006.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tragedy and Irony

Marie-Amélie of Naples, Duchesse d'Orléans, with her eldest son, the Duc de Chartres.

The other day, I received two thoughtful comments from Jorge, asking about Marie-Amélie's feelings regarding her husband's troubling taking of the throne during the July Revolution of 1830, and her mother Maria Carolina's feelings regarding her daughter's marriage to the son of the infamous revolutionary, the Duc d'Orléans, who had brought so much sorrow to her sister, Marie-Antoinette. I was delighted by Jorge's remarks, cutting to the heart of the tragedy and irony of Marie-Amélie's life. In the next few posts, I hope to examine these questions.

It is a touching tribute to the capacity for love and forgiveness of both the Queen of Naples and her daughter that the marriage of Marie-Amélie and Louis-Philippe was able to take place. After all, the young princess was, in a sense, marrying the enemy. Her mother, Maria Carolina of Austria, was the favorite sister of Marie-Antoinette, so the royal court of Naples had very close and cordial family ties to Versailles. Maria Carolina raised all her children with a profound respect for the Catholic monarchy of France, the foremost in Europe. Alongside the language, history and literature of their native land, she ensured that Amalia and her siblings learned to appreciate those of France. The Queen even spoke French most of the time with her children. At an early age, Amalia, for her part, was destined to marry her cousin, the Dauphin, and eventually become Queen of France.

Tragically, Amalia's little fiancé died in 1789. His death ominously concided with the beginning of the French Revolution, ushering in a whole series of traumas that would profoundly mark the young Amalia, a thoughtful, sensitive girl. In her old age, she would still vividly recall the horror and deep mourning in Naples at the executions of her uncle and aunt, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Her face flooded with tears, the Queen of Naples had solemnly assembled her children to tell them the terrible news that her own sister, the Queen of France, had been beheaded, before leading them all into the royal chapel to pray together for her soul. Everyone was appalled by the treachery of the Duc d'Orléans, who had voted for the death of the King, his own cousin. In the years to come, the proud, forceful, energetic and determined Maria Carolina would champion the cause of the Bourbon monarchy against all odds, generously supporting French émigrés while battling Napoleon with crusading ardor. The war brought many sorrows to the people and royal family of Naples. In 1798, Amalia, her parents, and siblings were forced to flee Naples and take refuge in Sicily.

In the light of all this, it is astonishing that Amalia fell in love with Louis-Philippe, himself a radical, and, moreover, the son of the royal regicide. It is even more astonishing that Amalia's parents permitted the marriage. How was this possible? Based on her Journal, it appears that Amalia and her parents, despite everything, decided Louis-Philippe was a good and noble man. It is this question I hope to discuss further in the days to come...

(to be continued)

Mystery Portrait

At Royal Portraits, this is listed as a painting of Queen Louise of the Belgians, but recently, on a discussion board, I came across a comment to the effect that some think it is a portrait of one of her sisters. I found that quite hard to believe. Only two of her sisters, Marie and Clementine, survived infancy, and both were definitely brunettes:

I thought perhaps it was really that some thought it was a portrait of one of her sisters-in-law, and, in fact, Wikimedia Commons describes the same painting as a portrait of Louise's cousin, Princess Maria Carolina of the Two Sicilies, wife of one of the Belgian queen's younger brothers. If it is Maria Carolina, she looks so much like Louise!

Friday, March 12, 2010

St. Alphonsus Liguori and Marie-Amélie

As revealed in her Journal (see HERE and HERE), Marie-Amélie, Queen of the French, was a woman of profound Catholic faith. With such a pious mother, it is not surprising that her daughter Louise became known as the "Holy Queen" of Belgium. At the court of Naples, religious principles and spiritual fervor were instilled in Marie-Amélie from an early age. Her mother, Maria Carolina of Austria (typically for the Habsburgs) was an ardent Catholic and took pains to raise her children in the same tradition. One of Marie-Amélie's most cherished youthful memories was the visit of St. Alphonsus Liguori to the royal palace. At the Queen's request, the holy and valiant founder of the Redemptorist Congregation had come to bless her family. The little princess Amalia had hitherto been fragile, and later attributed to the saint's blessing the good health she enjoyed for the rest of her long life.

(Image:  Bottom feature of the right stained glass window in the north transept of Carlow Cathedral, Ireland, showing St Alphonsus kneeling before the Most Holy Sacrament. Created by Franz Mayer & Co. in the 19th century. Photo by Andreas Borchert).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Traumatic Year

1815 was a hard year for Marie-Amélie. Along with the senior Bourbons, the Orléans had returned to France, after Napoleon's fall in 1814, but his tumultuous return to power soon forced them into exile yet again. Until 1817, Louis-Philippe's family would live at the "Orleans House," in Twickenham, England. On December 31, 1815, in a sober, prayerful spirit, Marie-Amélie recapitulated the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears of the past year. By now, of course, Napoleon had been decisively defeated at Waterloo, but Marie-Amélie still had alot on her mind.

Je remercie Dieu de tout mon coeur de m'avoir fait voir la fin de cette année. L'ayant commencée sous les auspices les plus heureux et les plus brillants, je craignais seulement d'être trop heureuse et que la prospérité, dont je jouissais, les vanités qui m'entouraient ne m'éloignassent de mes devoirs. Elles ont été de courte durée et un coup de foudre inattendu m'a fait mieux comprendre le néant des choses de ce monde. La nuit de mon départ fugitif de Paris demeure un des épisodes les plus douloureux: anéantie par le voyage le plus difficile, tourmentée de la santé de Louise, inquiète du sort de mon mari, j'ai passé un mois des plus pénibles de ma vie; ma santé en a été altérée et c'est seulement dans la tranquille solitude de Twickenham que je me suis remise, les agitations pour le sort de la France, les deux voyages de mon mari à Paris, la calomnie qui ne cesse de le persécuter ont été et sont encore pour moi une source continuelle d'inquiétudes.

Au milieu de ces épreuves j'ai cependant ressenti une vraie consolation en voyant mon bien-aimé Père tranquillement rétabli sur son trône et le beau rôle rempli par Léopold, toujours si brave. Cela a été mêle d'amertume par la triste pensée que ma chère Maman n'en a plus joui.

Je termine cette année dans une douce tranquillité, menant une vie retirée et paisible qui me conviendrait mieux que tout autre, si je pouvais oublier que je suis épouse et mère et que cette maison n'est pas la nôtre.

Je me résigne entièrement à la volonté divine; regrettant de n'avoir pas mieux profité des croix qu'Elle m'a envoyées durant l'année qui fini, je veux commencer l'autre pleine de confiance en Sa miséricorde qui fera toutes choses pour notre vrai bonheur et m'aidera à remplir tous mes devoirs comme il convient.


 I thank God with all my heart for enabling me to see the end of this year. Having commenced it under the happiest, most brilliant auspices, I feared only to be too happy, and that the prosperity I enjoyed, the vanities that surrounded me might distract me from my duties. They were of short duration, and an unexpected bolt of lightning helped me to better understand the nothingness of the things of this world. The night of my flight from Paris remains one of the most sorrowful episodes: exhausted by the most difficult journey, tormented by the ill-health of Louise, anxious about the fate of my husband, I passed one of the most painful months of my life; my health deteriorated and it is only in the tranquil solitude of Twickenham that I have recovered; the agitations for the fate of France, my husband's two journeys to Paris, the calumny that unceasingly pursues him were and still are for me a continual source of anxieties.

In the midst of these trials, I have, nonetheless, found true consolation, in seeing my beloved Father (Ferdinand IV, King of Naples) tranquilly re-established on his throne, and the noble role played by Leopold (her brother), always so good. This was mingled with bitterness at the sad thought that my dear Maman (Maria Carolina of Austria, Queen of Naples, who had died in 1814) no longer enjoyed it.

I end this year in a sweet tranquillity, leading a retiring, peaceful life, which would suit me better than any other, if I could forget that I am a wife and mother and that this house is not ours.

I resign myself entirely to the will of God; regretting that I have not better profited from the crosses He has sent me during the year that is coming to an end. I wish to begin the next full of confidence in His mercy, which will accomplish all things for our true happiness and assist me to fulfill all my duties as is right. (Le journal de Marie-Amélie, Duchesse d'Orléans, 1938, pp. 142-143)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stories of Marie-Amélie

Princess Henriette of Belgium enriches her account of the life of her great-grandmother, Marie-Amélie of Naples, Queen of the French, with a number of touching family anecdotes. Apparently, the memory of 'la bonne reine' was kept very alive among the Orléans. Here are a few vignettes, from her days as Duchesse d'Orléans, illustrating her character...

One anecdote was recounted by Marie-Amélie's daughter, Louise, Queen of the Belgians, and by her son, Louis, Duc de Nemours. One afternoon, while the Orléans were staying at their beautiful and beloved estate of Neuilly, Marie-Amélie was returning from a round of charitable visits. She was accompanied by her eldest girls, Louise and Marie, by the Duc de Nemours and by her youngest daughter, Clementine. As she was approaching the gates of Neuilly, two ruffians suddenly sprang up in her path. Seizing little Clementine in her arms, she told the three other children, anxiously clinging to their mother, to fear nothing. Blocking her way, the men called out raucously: "Who goes there? Who are you?" Fixing them with her calm, blue gaze, Marie-Amélie replied: "A mother, let me pass." The men yielded to this proud, courageous creature: "Pass, then, with the little ones."

According to another story, some humble women were warmly admiring the little Duc de Nemours (all the Orléans children were quite enchanting, blond and beautiful). "This is my son, Louis," Marie-Amélie explained. "May God make him another St. Louis, King of France!" cried the women, transported with enthusiasm. "Saint- yes, King- no," was his mother's wise reply.

In 1815, after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, came the news of the execution of one of his generals, Marshal Murat, who had usurped the Neapolitan throne from Marie-Amélie's father, King Ferdinand IV. During an ill-fated attempt to reconquer Naples, Murat had been captured and shot by Ferdinand's forces. Upon hearing of the tragic end of her family's deadliest foe, Marie-Amélie silently retired to her oratory, where she spent a long time in prayer. That night, as she took her children on her knees, prior to evening prayers, she told them repeatedly: "God teaches us, above all, to forgive our enemies." Her eldest son, the spirited, fierce little Duc de Chartres, responded:  "Yes, but we cannot love them!" "Yes," replied his mother,"we must try to love them in God, and not to wish them ill. If they have done wrong, vengeance is God's alone." Marie-Amélie's words, and the solemnity of her tone, made a deep, unforgettable impression on little Louise. Only later would she realize that it was for Murat her mother had sought prayers...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Death of a Child

One of the most moving passages in Marie-Amélie's Journal concerns the death of her third daughter, the baby princess Françoise (1816-1818).

Si préparés que nous ayons été à ce cruel événement, il n'en est pas moins douloureux; je suis mère, et c'est la première fois que je perds un enfant, juste douze ans, jour pour jour, après ma bien-aimée soeur Toto (Marie-Antoinette de Bourbon-Naples, Princesse des Asturies). Ma seule consolation est la certitude qu'elle est désormais un ange au ciel, qu'elle y jouit d'un inaltérable bonheur et qu'elle est à l'abri des vicissitudes de ce monde. Même si je pouvais je ne lui rendrais pas la vie, ce serait de ma part égoïsme, puisqu'elle est assurée de posséder cet heureux sort que je souhaite à tous ceux qui sont l'objet de mes plus tendres, de mes plus profondes affections.

As prepared as we had been for this cruel event, it is not, for that reason, less painful; I am a mother, and it is the first time I have lost a child, only twelve years, to the day, after my beloved sister Toto (Maria Antonia of Bourbon-Naples, Princess of Asturias). My only consolation is the certainty that she is henceforth an angel in heaven, that she enjoys, there, an unalterable happiness and that she is safe from the vicissitudes of this world. Even if I could, I would not restore life to her, it would be selfishness on my part, because she is assured of possessing that happy lot that I wish for all those who are the object of my most tender, my most profound affections. (Le journal de Marie-Amélie, Duchesse d'Orléans:1814-1822, 1938, p. 210)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Duc de Vendôme, Husband of Princess Henriette

Here is a photograph of Prince Emmanuel d'Orléans (1872-1931), Duc de Vendôme, beloved husband of Princess Henriette of Belgium and brother-in-law of King Albert I. Emmanuel was the son of Ferdinand Philippe d'Orléans, Duc d'Alençon and his wife, Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria. This made him a first cousin of Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, later Queen of the Belgians, as the consort of King Albert I . In 1897, Emmanuel's mother died in a fire at a charity bazaar in Paris, heroically trying to save others from the flames. This was not the only tragedy in Emmanuel's life. In 1928, he would lose a handicapped daughter, also named Sophie. In 1931, he himself died suddenly of heart failure, only 59 years old.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Two Princes

In an interesting passage, Princess Henriette of Belgium, Duchesse de Vendôme, contrasts two Bourbon princes, Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans (1747-1793), the royal regicide, and Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé (1736-1818), head of the counter-revolutionary army of émigrés. Henriette's balanced, nuanced reflections, on topics prone to arouse partisan passions, are typical of her historical work.

...Condé et le feu Duc d'Orléans présentent dans la maison capétienne les deux contrastes les plus absolus. Orléans, d'un caractère influençable, faible, très ombrageux vis-à-vis de la Cour, où ses aînés manquèrent souvent d'égards, Louis XVI l'ayant tenu systématiquement en dehors de toute action, ce qui était manquer d'adresse, car avec du doigté il se le fût attaché. Il avait de la valeur, et, bien guidé, bien orienté, il n'eût sans doute pas eu la déplorable tendance d'aller toujours à la gauche, toujours à l'opposition, ce qui le mena à la coupable lâcheté du vote régicide, crime qu'il expia en montant avec courage et résignation sur l'échafaud. Il put voir comme tant d'autres que ses concessions regrettables ne l'avaient pas sauvé de la haine révolutionnaire.

Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, oublia au contraire son intérêt propre, sa fortune, sa situation pour lutter sans trêve pour la seule France qui'l reconnût: la France monarchiste et loyale. Si les émigrés et leur chef militaire ont été critiqués, attaqués, calomniés depuis plus d'un siècle par tant d'écrivains et historiens, qui voyaient en eux les ennemis du pays, parce qu'ils combattaient la France révolutionnaire, il faut, pour juger leur mentalité, comprendre leur dévouement à la monarchie qui, pour eux, incarnait la patrie. Leurs principes les poussaient à combattre pour rendre à la France le régime qui l'avait fait si grande. Condé avait mis son idéal, son patriotisme très réel, ses talents militaires à réconquérir son pays et le sauver des idées révolutionnaires faites à son avis pour le perdre. Ne voyons-nous pas maintenant également l'âpre lutte des idées et des principes? Les émigrés ont aimé leur patrie d'après leurs principes, comme nous tous: de nos jours on ne peut pourtant pas dire qu'on n'aime pas la France parce que l'on combat le communisme et le bolchevisme qui ont envahi notre gouvernement, et que nous savons être les destructeurs et les pires ennemis de notre patrie? Il faut voir dans l'âme de Condé la même conviction; son épée était dégainée contre l'échafaud, les massacres et les destructeurs des autels, de la foi, de la tradition...

...Condé and the late Duc d'Orléans represent the most absolute contrast in the Capetian house. Orléans, of an influenceable character, weak, very quick to take umbrage in relation to the Court, where the elder branch often failed to show him consideration, as Louis XVI systematically kept him out of all action, which was a lack of address, for, with tact, he could have won his attachment. He did have worth and, well guided, well oriented, he would certainly not have had the deplorable tendency to go always to the left, always to the opposition, which led him to the guilty cowardice of the regicidal vote, a crime he expiated by mounting the scaffold with courage and resignation. He could see, like so many others, that his regrettable concessions had not saved him from revolutionary hatred.

Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, on the contrary, forgot his own interest, his fortune, his situation to fight unremittingly for the only France he recognized: monarchist and loyalist France. If the émigrés and their military leader have been criticized, attacked, calumniated for more than a century by so many writers and historians, who see in them the enemies of the country, because they fought revolutionary France, we must, to judge their mentality, understand their devotion to the monarchy which, for them, incarnated the country. Their principles impelled them to fight to return to France the regime that had made her so great. Condé had put his ideal, his very real patriotism, his military talents to work to reconquer his country and save it from the revolutionary ideas, which, in his opinion, would destroy it. Do we not now also see the bitter struggle of ideas and principles? The émigrés loved their country according to their principles, as do we all: in our day, we cannot say that we do not love France because we combat the communism and Bolshevism that have invaded our government, and which we know to be the destroyers and the worst enemies of our country? We must see in Condé's soul the same conviction; his sword was unsheathed against the scaffold, the massacres and the destroyers of the altars, of the faith, of tradition. (Le journal de Marie-Amélie, Duchesse d'Orléans, 1938, pp. 57-58).


Since yesterday, this site has suddenly been getting alot of hits (apparently from different locations in the USA) with search terms like "Albert Einstein to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium," "Albert Einstein condolence letter to Queen of Belgium," "Einstein grief Queen of Belgium," etc. I wonder, is it the same person somehow using different IP addresses? Of course, I don't mind getting hits but it does strike me as curious. In any case, for those who are interested, HERE is Einstein's moving letter to his friend, the Belgian queen, trying to console her for the loss of her husband.

Coronation of Napoleon, December 2, 1804

Throughout her account of the life of her great-grandmother, Marie-Amélie of Naples, it is clear that the Duchesse de Vendôme had no sympathy for Napoleon. A forceful defender of the Bourbon monarchy, Henriette portrays Bonaparte as a usurper, tyrant and vainglorious conqueror responsible for plunging France and Europe into a series of disastrous wars. She repeatedly refers to the execution of the Duc d'Enghien in tones of horror. Here are her pithy remarks on Napoleon's coronation:

Le 2 décembre, le coup de théâtre le plus inouï, se jouait à Paris. Napoléon Ier et Joséphine, se faisaient couronner à Notre-Dame avec une pompe extraordinaire, sous les yeux de Pie VII amené de force, de Rome, pour en être le spectateur. Onze ans après l'exécution du Roi légitime, les révolutionnaires pliaient l'échine, avec une rare servilité, devant un maître absolu et tyrannique, stigmatisé du nom de tyran, affublé de tous les oripeaux monarchiques, mais sans ce qui les auréole, c'est-à-dire le droit et la tradition.

On December 2, the most unheard-of coup de theatre was staged in Paris. Napoleon I and Josephine had themselves crowned at Notre-Dame with extraordinary pomp, under the eyes of Pius VII, brought by force from Rome to be the spectator. Eleven years after the execution of the legitimate King, the revolutionaries, with a rare servility, bowed before an absolute, tyrannical master, stigmatised with the name of tyrant, decked out in all the monarchical finery, but without that which gives it glory, namely, right and tradition. (La jeunesse de Marie-Amélie reine des Français, d'après son journal, 1935, pp. 116-117)
A healthy corrective, I think, to all the adulation Napoleon has received through the decades. The emphasis on tradition and legitimacy, coming from a woman born a Belgian princess, might surprise some. After all, the Belgian monarchy was very recent, and born in a revolution. Yet, throughout her work, Henriette proves to be strikingly conservative.