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)


Christina said...

Matterhorn, this is very interesting - thank you! Please could you write more about Churchill's treatment of the Belgian royalty in WW2? I am afraid my knowledge of history after 1918-1919 is sadly lacking but Churchill's entire career seems to be one of self-serving megalomania! (I think he was an obnoxious man in every respect and wonder to this day why he is seen as a national hero...a man who made decisions about Poland's future on a drunken night at a banquet with Stalin?? His behaviour in WW1 was utterly shameful, too.)

May said...

Thank you, Christina. Roger Keyes' books, OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, and ECHEC AU ROI are good sources of information on Churchill's treatment of the Belgian monarchy.

Churchill was very opposed to King Leopold and generally very scornful of the Belgians in general. Churchill's own son, Randolph, furiously confronted his father over his disparaging account of the Belgian role in WW2 in one of his books. Apparently, Randolph said: "You know everything you've written is a pack of lies," and Churchill said something like: "Of course these were lies, but the version of events given by the best writer will become the generally accepted version."

Randolph also met Leopold and Lilian after the war and expressed astonishment that Leopold was willing to shake hands with a member of his family. Asked why, he replied: "Because my father behaved abominably towards Your Majesty."

I may write more on it later.

Christina said...

Thank you, Matterhorn. This is appalling and confirms what I already understood about Churchill - the psychopath who thoroughly enjoyed WW1 and was willing to have his own mother sleep with various influential people to gain different political positions for himself. Totally without any morality whatsoever! And a man like wrote the wonder so much taught history is nothing but rubbish!
I would be interested to read anything more you write of this.
Thank you for answering my question.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

The story about Prince Charles and Marie Astrid is false. It was created in order to catch a mole in the Privy Council. This false story was fed to the unnamed privy council member who quickly contacted his source at the Daily Express. The newspaper published the story the next day with the headline Charles to marry Marie Astrid: sons Anglicans, daughters Catholic. The story was bogus. The person was caught. Charles issued a statement a few days later, as he was not happy with how this came about as he barely knew Marie Astrid. Moreover, unless Marie Astrid joined the Anglican church, there could be no marriage. Charles would have lost his right to the throne