Tuesday, June 5, 2012


In Le Soir, Princess Esmeralda tries to dispel some myths about her mother, Princess Lilian, long portrayed as her husband's dark angel. Lilian was NEVER the governess of the children of the widowed King Leopold III. In fact, before marrying the King, she had never even met his children by Queen Astrid. Lilian was also not a cold and calculating woman. On the contrary, according to Esmeralda, she was all too passionate, spontaneous and choleric. She never forgave those whom she considered to have betrayed her husband and made enemies by frankly speaking her mind. She was not "politically correct". Much mystification has surrounded the circumstances of the first meeting of Leopold and Lilian. Esmeralda says simply that her mother first met her father by chance at a horse race in Ostende in 1937. Lilian's parents were hosting King Leopold and his brother, Prince Charles. Madame Baels needed someone to help her serve tea to her guests, so her daughter came along.

Lilian herself never gave interviews, never publicly defended herself against the many slurs on her reputation, leading to the perpetuation of false rumors. (This, in itself, contradicts the claim that she was a a self-centered, self-pitying woman who was always trying to attract attention ). Even Patrick Weber, a usually balanced journalist and historian of royalty, and the co-author of Esmeralda's new book, Lilian, une princesse entre ombre et lumière, relates that he only knew the legend of the Princess of Réthy before researching her in more depth for this work. He found that those who knew her well painted a picture of quite a different woman.


Elisa said...

This would be great for "Lost in the Myths of History" blog!

May said...

Thank you, Elisa. I think it would be good but I would have to add a bit more context.