Wednesday, January 19, 2011


January 23 will mark the anniversary of the death of Prince Baudouin of Belgium (1869-1891), the much-regretted elder brother of King Albert I. In Albert of Belgium: defender of right (1935), Emile Cammaerts describes the king's efforts to silence the scandalous rumors surrounding the prince's passing. (The pious, conscientious young man had been portrayed as an inveterate philanderer who had fallen victim to a crime of passion or a suicide).
Talking to M. de Paeuw in July 1930, King Albert mentioned certain rumors which had been spread on the morrow of Prince Baudouin's sudden death, and asked him to seize the first opportunity of contradicting these statements."You must," he said, "help us to stop the calumnies which were circulated and which are still circulated regarding my brother's premature death. You see, M. le Directeur- Général, the higher we are placed the more exposed we are to mischievous gossip. Kings and Princes are even less free of it than others. Everything we do is looked at through magnifying glasses. The public cannot believe that we can live simply and that a Prince can die of a common illness like everyone else. Imaginations are stirred, tongues begin to wag, and invention is added to invention."
In order to comply with the late King's wishes, M. de Paeuw reproduced in his book, Albert, Troisième Roi des Belges, the series of letters, written in January 1891 by the Count of Flanders to Leopold II, showing conclusively that Prince Baudouin died of pneumonia, following a cold contracted in the course of his military duties (Appendix VI).
Ironically, however, similar lurid nonsense would be spread about King Albert's own premature death, on February 17, 1934.

More on Prince Baudouin
More on the family of the Count and Countess of Flanders

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