Friday, August 31, 2012

Elisabeth of Hungary

Sisi's coronation in Budapest.
So great was the enthusiasm aroused by the appearance of the Empress-Queen, that it is scarcely wonderful if her whole heart went out anew to a people who, by the warmth of their reception, the many tokens of admiration and love bestowed upon her, presented so vivid a contrast to the manner in which the Teutonic portion of her husband’s subjects had comported themselves towards her when the imperial crown had been placed upon her brow, almost thirteen years before. Her predilection for Hungary from henceforth became more than ever marked. She learned the terribly difficult Magyar language with her usual facility, devoting herself with such energy to this task that she absolutely amazed her instructors, and most of her time was spent in her marvelous Castle of Gödöllö, near Budapest. (Read entire post)

Little Princess Marie-Christine

I am pained by her behavior as an adult, but it would be hard to find a more adorable little girl. She always loved her stuffed animals, as her sister Esmeralda recalls in her book, Léopold III, mon père.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Remembering Queen Astrid

The glorious memory
Her Majesty Queen Astrid
Queen of the Belgians
Born at Stockholm, November 17, 1905
Proclaimed Queen February 23, 1934
Accidentally deceased August 29, 1935
at Küssnacht (Switzerland)
She had to die in the flower of her youth because only death could add to her crown. (Père Lacordaire)
Her grace and her charm, her kindness and her simplicity had conquered all hearts.
She had given herself entirely to Belgium, and her death leaves in the hearts of all Belgians a deep wound.
Men and women mourn their Queen.
Children mourn a mother.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Life of Queen Louise-Marie

A delightful post. As it happens, the anniversary of the death of the Queen's beloved father Louis-Philippe is coming soon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Fall of Liège

The Exiled Belgian Royalist remembers. Here is the noble letter that General Gerard Leman, now a prisoner of war, sent King Albert after the German capture of the forts of Liège on August 16, 1914. Leman had once been a military tutor to Albert.
After honourable engagements on August 4th, 5th, and 6th, I considered that the forts of Liege could only play the role of forts d'arret. I nevertheless maintained military government in order to coordinate the defense as much as possible, and to exercise moral influence upon the garrison.
Your Majesty is not ignorant that I was at Fort Loncin on August 6th at noon. You will learn with grief that the fort was blown up yesterday at 5.20 p.m., the greater part of the garrison being buried under the ruins.
That I did not lose my life in that catastrophe is due to the fact that my escort, Commandant Collard, a sub-officer of infantry who unfortunately perished, the gendarme Thevenim and my two orderlies, Vanden Bossche and Jos Lecocq, drew me from a position of danger, where I was being asphyxiated by gas from the exploded powder.
I was carried into a trench, where a German captain named Guson gave me a drink, after which I was made a prisoner and taken to Liege in an ambulance. I am convinced that the honour of our arms has been sustained. I have not surrendered either the fortress or the forts.
Deign, Sire, to pardon my defects in this letter. I am physically shattered by the explosion of Loncin. In Germany, whither I am proceeding, my thoughts will be, as they have ever been, of Belgium and the King. I would willingly have given my life the better to serve them, but death was denied me.
More on the battle of Liège, HERE.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Marie-Astrid, Princess of Wales?

Gareth Russell comments on the rumors that Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg, grand-daughter of King Leopold III of the Belgians, might once have been considered a possible bride for the Prince of Wales. (Given the treatment of the Belgian monarch by Winston Churchill during World War II, it might have been an interesting historical revenge for Leopold).
That the government considered it possible that Prince Charles might one day want to marry Princess Marie-Astrid is shown by the fact that there were several committees set-up to see if it was constitutionally possible to repeal the ban on British royals marrying Catholics. There was soft opposition, from the beginning, including from Charles's beloved grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who was not only a devout Protestant but was also naturally opposed to change. Concerns about how such a marriage would affect the already-volatile situation in Northern Ireland were also voiced. Early in 1980, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, set up a small committee to discuss the issue. According to her future biographer, Hugo Young, the Prime Minister herself was strongly opposed to changing the law or to encouraging the Prince's marriage to Marie-Astrid. And her objections rested squarely on the idea that the princess's religion was problematic and undesirable. Some of the committees other members later told Young that they had been shocked by "the extreme anti-Catholicism" of the Prime Minister.
Eventually the rumours about Charles and Marie-Astrid faded away. Maybe that's all they ever were. Neither Charles, nor Marie-Astrid, ever went firmly on the record about how much truth there had been in the idea that they could quite married. Evidently, Mrs. Thatcher considered it a possibility, but we don't know how sold on the idea Charles himself ever was. Charles soon announced his forthcoming marriage to the beautiful Diana Spencer - young, virginal, British, aristocrat and Protestant. And Marie-Astrid married a member of the deposed Austrian royal family, Archduke Carl-Christian, in 1982. (Read entire post)

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Queen Elisabeth of Belgium as a widow.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Queen of Children

Today is the anniversary of the German invasion of Belgium in 1914. Here is information about Queen Elisabeth's establishment of a children's refuge in the little corner of Belgium never conquered, from the memoirs of a representative of the American Red Cross:
But early she faced what we faced later- the fact that the parents of many of the children would not let them go. She looked about to see if there was any place in Flanders where she herself could establish a colony, and make it a model of its kind. Queen though she was, she encountered the strongest kind of opposition, even from some of the officers of the King's household. They knew the range of artillery and uncertainties of war, and they did not want the Queen put into a position where a shell on a barrack could cause a slaughter of children for which she would be held responsible. Her Majesty, for all her soft voice and gentle ways, has very positive views and a way of holding on to them. And as for shirking a duty because the thing might go badly and react on her, this is a thing unlikely to ever happen in her life. She is too true a woman. She held fast to the necessity of the action she proposed, and she raised the money. When it came to the almost awful question of just where to put it, of deciding  where shells would not fall, she got the best advice she could and then acted. The site was in the open country, close to the frontier, and near Vinckem where Dr. Depage later built his big hospital. One of the barracks was contributed by citizens of Paterson, N.J., a thing the Queen always pointed out with pride.
In two little villages of wooden barracks, the Queen provided for 600 children- one group of children from 6 to 10, and the other from 11 to 16. 
The barracks were placed, on soil well drained, flat thought it was, and around them bloomed the most beautiful flowers from early spring until late autumn. Between the two groups of barracks was a large vegetable garden which the older boys helped to work. 
The barracks were light, well but simply furnished, and everything about them showed that somebody of taste and culture was at the head. 
The Queen was fortunate in having the pick of available personnel and this made other authorities growl occasionally, but the growls were low and not very deep. Certain it is that whether we ascribe it to her brains or luck, Her Majesty made there a real school. A beautiful little chapel stood among the other buildings. The instruction was modern. The children really learned something. And the whole atmosphere of the place unquestionably lifted most of them up to a plane they never would have reached had there been no war and no school of the Queen. Twice during the war, we tried to get over from America the most modern books on education for a present to the Queen out of other than relief funds, as we knew her great desire to have them, but the shipments had not come through when the war ended. (John van Schaik, The little corner never conquered: the story of the American Red Cross work for Belgium, 1922, pp. 136-137)

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Queen's Appeal

Above is a facsimile of the Belgian queen's earnest appeal to the women of America for humanitarian aid for her people during the cruel German occupation of World War I. I always love Elisabeth's bold, regal signature.
I have learned with gratification of the noble and effective work being done by American citizens and officials on behalf of my stricken people. I confidently hope that their efforts will receive the ungrudging support which we have learned to expect from the generous womanhood of America.
We mothers of Belgium no less than the mothers of America have for generations instilled in our children the instincts and the love of peace. We asked no greater boon than to live in peace and friendship with all the world. We have provoked no war, yet in defense of our hearthstones our country has been laid waste from end to end.
The flow of commerce has ceased and my people are faced with famine. The terrors of starvation with the consequences of disease and violence menace the unoffending civilian population- the aged, the infirm, the women and the children.
American officials and citizens in Belgium and England, alive to their country's traditions, have created an organization under the protection of their Government and are already sending food to my people. I hope that they may receive the fullest sympathy and aid from every side.
I need not say that I and my people shall always hold in grateful remembrance the proven friendship of America in this hour of need. (Hugh Gibson, Diplomatic Diary, 1917, p. 303)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

As We Forgive

Young American filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson discusses her award-winning documentary about genocide and redemption in the former Belgian mandate of Rwanda with Dr. Marvin Olasky of Patrick Henry College. Readers may remember the compassionate interest in the victims of the holocaust shown by Princess Lilian of Belgium.

Bride of the Snows

Kronprinzessin Astrid von Belgien als Braut, Crown Princess of Belgium as bride
Footage of Prince Leopold's marriage to Astrid of Sweden in 1926, including scenes of celebration from Stockholm, Antwerp and Brussels. I always think of the great contrast between the joy and splendor of the future King's first marriage and the rather grim, furtive circumstances of his second, fifteen years later, to Lilian Baels. Had Leopold and Lilian been able to marry in peacetime, amidst public festivities, perhaps the beauty and cheerfulness of the occasion would have diffused some of the suspicion and disapproval of a commoner becoming the widowed monarch's consort. Of course, the new couple would also have avoided the charge of valuing their own happiness more than that of their suffering people.