Friday, February 17, 2012

Interview with Prince Alexandre

Here is a brief, but touching interview with the late Prince Alexandre of Belgium, son of King Leopold III and Princess Lilian, and older brother of the lovely Princess Esmeralda, fourteen years his junior. The interview took place during the production of Nicolas Delvaulx's documentary, Léopold III, mon père, featuring the testimonies of Alexandre and Esmeralda. In the interview, Alexandre soberly discusses his youthful traumas. As a boy, he witnessed the tensions of the Royal Question at close hand. He slept badly during the royal family's exile in Switzerland, overhearing representatives of the Belgian government coming and going and raised voices in his father's study until the early hours of the morning. Later, as a teenager, Alexandre suffered severely from a heart condition which required surgery in Boston. The real reason for his trip to the United States was carefully hidden from him until the last moment. Journalists who arrived at the hospital to interview Leopold were instructed not to mention the impending operation.

The clip also touches on Alexandre's marriage to Léa Wolman, who had already been twice divorced. Esmeralda explains that her mother, who disapproved of Léa, initially refused even to consider the possibility of meeting her. Alexandre, who was very close to his mother, yet unable to contemplate life without his beloved, was placed in a painful dilemma. In the end, he decided to marry Léa without telling Lilian for seven years... I am not sure how he squared this step, however emotionally understandable, with his religion, since the Catholic faith prohibits divorce and remarriage while someone's first spouse is still alive. The clip includes a letter written by Alexandre to Lilian, imploring her to accept his choice of wife:
"Dear Maman, I want you to read this letter in all tranquillity, in the beautiful place of Hinteriss, which you love...I must speak to you of Léa. After 48 years, I am certain of knowing the most important woman of my life, except for you, of course. I profoundly wish that you would meet her. It is now four years since I discovered her. It is no longer possible for me to live without her. The happiness I feel with Léa is essential to me. I cannot do without it. ...Dear Maman, I would be so sad to make you unhappy. But you must accept to know her. What is certain is that you have many points in common. After fifty years, I will never find another such chance at happiness. Your son who loves you more than anything, Alexandre." 
Today, we also remember Alexandre's grandfather, King Albert I, who died so tragically on this day in 1934. What a pity that Leopold's children by Lilian never had a chance to meet him. May he rest in peace +

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