Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Queen among Women

Young Queen Elisabeth of Belgium
A touching description of Queen Elisabeth and her fellow Belgian women during the First World War, from Charlotte Kellogg of the American Commission for Relief in Belgium.
One of these particular developments is the unswerving devotion of the women of Belgium to all those hurt or broken by the tragedy within and without her gates. How fortunate are these women, born to royal leadership, to have found in their Queen the leader typifying the highest ideal of their service, and the actual comrade in sorrow, working shoulder to shoulder with them in the hospitals and kitchens. The battle lines may separate her wounded and suffering from theirs, but they know always that she is there, doing as they are doing, and more than they are doing. 
Never were sovereigns more loved, more adored than Albert and Elizabeth. All through these two years people have been borne up by the vision of the day of their return. "But how shall we be able to stand it?" they say. "We shall go mad with joy!" "We shall not be able to speak for weeping and shouting!" "We shall march from the four corners of the country on foot in a mighty pilgrimage to Brussels, the King shall know what we think of him as man and leader!" 
When they speak of the Queen all words are inadequate; they place her first as woman, as mother, as tender nurse. They are proud, and with reason, of her intelligence and sound judgment. Under her father, a distinguished oculist, she received a most rigorous education; she is equipped in brain as well as in heart for her incalculable responsibilities. I was told the other day that she dislikes exceedingly having her photograph as "nurse" circulate, feeling that people may think she wishes to be known for her good works. But whether she wishes it or not, she is known and will be known throughout history for her good works- for her clear, clean vision of right, her swift courage, and her utter devotion to each and all of her people. Albert and Elizabeth, A and E, these letters are written on the heart of Belgium. (Women of Belgium: turning tragedy into triumph, Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York and London, 1917, pp. 2-4)

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