Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Gracious Princess

Here is a thank-you note from Princess Joséphine-Charlotte, dating from the period of her family's exile in Switzerland. Unfortunately, I am not sure to whom this letter was supposed to be addressed, but it seems to have been directed at a group of people. I wonder if it was a Leopoldist group who had fêted the Princess in order to show support for her father? In any case, it is certainly true that Joséphine-Charlotte was a powerful symbol for the King's friends.  In 1949, she returned to Belgium, to raise support for her father. She also voted for her father's return in the popular consultation held in 1950 to end the Royal Question. On both occasions, her arrival sparked outpourings of royalist fervor. The King's supporters welcomed her with cries of "Vive la princesse!" and "Léopold!" The Leopoldist newspaper, «Le Cri du Peuple» also made great use of Joséphine-Charlotte's resemblance to her mother, the beloved, tragically lost Queen Astrid, with a series of photographs, and the caption: «Hier, ELLE nous a rendu le sourire de CELLE que nous avons perdue. Demain, ELLE nous rendra CELUI que nous attendons» ("Yesterday, SHE restored to us the smile of HER whom we have lost. Tomorrow, SHE will restore to us HIM whom we await.") It was a clever slogan, since Astrid's image was so often used against Leopold in propaganda hostile to the King. While in Belgium to further her father's cause, Joséphine-Charlotte also piously remembered her mother, visiting and meditating at the deceased Queen's tomb in the Royal Crypt of Laeken.

Very touched by the kind thought you had to celebrate my 21st birthday, I thank you all, with all my heart, for this testimony of sympathy.

Prégny, December 12, 1948

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