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Post  May on Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:57 pm

The Royal Palace of Brussels, more a place of work than a residence.
http://www.monarchie.be/palace-and-heritage/palace-brussels
The Palace is the place where His Majesty the King exercises his prerogatives as Head of State. It is at the Palace that the King grants audiences and deals with affairs of state.

Apart from housing the offices of the King and the Queen, the Royal Palace also accommodates the services of the Chief of Cabinet to the King, the Intendant of the Civil List of the King, the Chief of the Military Household of the King , the Chief of Protocol of the Court, the Head of the Foreign Relations Department and the Head of the Petitions and Social Affairs Department .

The Palace also includes the State Rooms where large receptions are held, as well as the apartments provided for foreign Heads of State during official visits.

Belgian Royal Residences 640px-Zepper-Br%C3%BCssel-Belgien-K%C3%B6niglicherPalast
Zepper-Brüssel-Belgien-KöniglicherPalast [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], by Matthias Zepper (Own work), from Wikimedia Commons

Belgian Royal Residences 240px-Royal_collection_Clock
Royal collection Clock [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], by Carolus 17:32, 26 August 2007 (UTC) (self-work), from Wikimedia Commons

Belgian Royal Residences Salon_de_Goya-Detail
Salon de Goya-Detail [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], by User:Carolus (Own work), from Wikimedia Commons

Belgian Royal Residences 240px-Paleis_brusselsalonpiano
Paleis brusselsalonpiano [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], by Carolus (Own work), from Wikimedia Commons

Belgian Royal Residences Belgian_Royal_collection_Faulteuil_LP
Belgian Royal collection Faulteuil LP [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], by User:Carolus (Own work), from Wikimedia Commons
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Post  Elena on Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Thank you so much!! Very Happy

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Post  May on Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:00 pm

You're welcome! Smile I wish I had pictures of Argenteuil in its days of glory to share here. But I can recommend this book by Prince Alexandre:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2010/12/argenteuil-pour-garder-intacte-la.html

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. Published by the late Prince Alexandre of Belgium, son of Leopold III and Lilian Baels, it is a magnificent pictorial history of the estate of Argenteuil. Superb photographs, in black and white, and in color, help to trace the development of Argenteuil, from the construction of the mansion in the Sonian Forest by American entrepreneur William Tuck in 1930 to the sale of the property to industrialist and philosopher, Jean-Marie Delwart, in 2004. Purchased by the Belgian government in 1949, Argenteuil was placed at the disposition of Leopold, Lilian, and their children from 1960-2002.


The arrival of this politically inconvenient, rejected, but richly talented branch of the royal family inaugurated the golden age of the chateau. Lilian's lavish but exquisitely refined tastes transformed the bare and dilapidated mansion into a distinguished and elegant home for the former King of the Belgians. Here, with energy and passion, yet with discretion and delicacy, the royal couple devoted themselves to scientific, cultural and humanitarian pursuits; Leopold to his Fonds Léopold III Pour l'Exploration et la Conservation de la Nature and Lilian to her Fondation Cardiologique Princesse Lilian.


After Leopold's death in 1983, Lilian cherished his memory and hoped to preserve the royal heritage of Argenteuil for future generations. In her Will, she requested that she be buried on the estate and that the chateau be maintained, essentially, as she left it, as a memorial to her husband and as a centre for scientific and cultural reunions. She hoped that, in the future, her descendants would be able to visit Argenteuil often, on their vacations. After Lilian's death in 2002, the Verhofstadt government respected none of these rather poignant last wishes. Instead, Lilian was interred at Laeken and the mansion was stripped bare and sold to the highest bidder. Nonetheless, books like Prince Alexandre's help to preserve at least the memory of the legendary royal estate.
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Post  May on Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:02 pm

Belgian Royal Residences CiergnonCastle
A lovely country chateau, the Royal Castle of Ciergnon, near the village of the same name. Photograph courtesy of David Edgar. The castle is a residence and summer retreat of the royal family.

There are touching stories associated with Ciergnon. One illustrates the piety and simplicity of Albert I. When he visited Ciergnon, he would go to Confession in the village church, taking his place in line, and declining to go before his turn.

Queen Astrid loved Ciergnon; after all, she had been raised, to a great extent, in the countryside herself, in Sweden.

Princess Marie-Esmeralda of Belgium, daughter of Leopold III and his second wife, Princess Lilian, recalls, in her book, Léopold III, mon père, visiting Ciergnon with her family and playing on the grounds of the chateau, with great enjoyment.
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Post  Elena on Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:06 pm

Oh, how wonderful! sunny

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Post  May on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:54 pm

Well, here is a review in French of Michel Verwilghen's wonderful book Le mythe d'Argenteuil: demeure d'un couple royal (2006). There are some photos of Lilian, Esmeralda and Argenteuil. Not as many as I would like, but still...

http://www.dupedi.be/assets/evenement/352/preview.pdf

I can REALLY recommend Verwilghen's work to anyone who reads French. It is a very careful, erudite history of the estate, yet is also beautifully written, with humanity, poetry, passion and wit, qualities which make it easy to read, despite all the intricate details of changes of ownership, changes of reign and government, legal disputes, political debates, and so forth. Verwilghen takes to task a number of malicious myths about Leopold and Lilian, such as the story repeated ad nauseam that they stole all the furniture from Laeken while moving to Argenteuil, something I doubt would be even physically possible. Wink He also has many astute, and often amusing observations about the political manipulations/biases in the Belgian press. There are wonderful photographs in the book, including a few of Princess Lilian as a grandmother with her daughter Esmeralda's little girl, Alexandra. Before her death, Lilian had the joy of knowing the family she had founded with the King would continue, thanks to the birth of Alexandra and soon afterwards, her little brother Leopoldo.

There is a limited preview of the book here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=eTDry2w6EXAC&lpg=PP1&dq=le%20mythe%20d'argenteuil&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=le%20mythe%20d'argenteuil&f=false
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Post  May on Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:51 pm

Here is a post about a visit paid by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Leopold and Lilian at Argenteuil. The visit is covered by Verwilghen in his book.

Among the most illustrious guests of Leopold III and Lilian de Réthy were HM Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In the spring of 1966, on a state visit to Belgium, the Queen made a detour by Argenteuil, where the former King of the Belgians and his wife had been living, in a kind of internal exile, for the past five years. On May 11, traveling by royal train from Liège, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the little station of Groenendael to be conducted to Argenteuil. Upon reaching the estate, the distinguished visitors were welcomed by a guard of honor consisting of members of a local equestrian club, Les Habits rouges. That afternoon, in the elegant chateau, the two royal couples enjoyed an intimate tea party and pleasant conversation, mostly in English.

Although everyone tactfully avoided mentioning the Second World War, Elizabeth's friendly gesture towards Leopold and Lilian had political significance. During the war, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, had severely, and unfairly, condemned Leopold's surrender to the Nazis in May, 1940. After the war, while Leopold remained in exile in Austria and Switzerland, Churchill had played a major role in preventing his return to Belgium (see, for example, Roger Keyes, Échec au Roi: Léopold III 1940-1951). Publicly, King George VI had been obliged to maintain solidarity with his government and to treat Leopold coldly. Privately, however, he seems to have been much more sympathetic to his Belgian cousin, perhaps partly thanks to the influence of Lord Roger Keyes, the British liaison officer who had bravely defended Leopold from the false accusations of cowardice and treason in 1940. In matters under his control, such as honors and decorations, King George, to his credit, refused to countenance reprisals against his beleaguered fellow sovereign. Queen Elizabeth's visit to Argenteuil, suggesting that she shared her father's sentiments, delighted and touched her hosts.

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/01/royal-visit-to-argenteuil.html
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Post  May on Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:56 pm

Belgian Royal Residences 1118563953053756471S425x425Q85

In her Will, Princess Lilian of Belgium asked to be buried at the foot of her chapel at Argenteuil. This little Gothic gem had been erected in the Loire valley at the time of Henri IV. Centuries later, it was dismantled to facilitate a construction project, but was subsequently acquired by Count Paul de Launoit, a faithful counsellor of King Leopold III. The Count transported the pieces of the chapel to Belgium. In 1961, he reached an agreement with the Minister of Public Works, enabling the chapel to be reconstituted and donated to Leopold and Lilian.

The chapel was rebuilt in a a glade near the grassy esplanade to the south of the mansion of Argenteuil. In this intimate, mystical little sanctuary, Leopold and Lilian would practice their religion for decades. Princess Lilian, in particular, almost never attended any other place of worship. For forty years, her spiritual needs were served at Argenteuil by her confessors, including Henri Collart, S. J. and Raymond Thils, a brave military chaplain, greatly admired by the King and his wife, who had served in the Resistance during World War II.

Unfortunately, the Belgian government did not allow Lilian to be buried at Argenteuil as she had hoped. Prior to her funeral at Laeken, however, her children, Alexandre and Esmeralda, organized a memorial service in her beloved chapel to honor at least the spirit of her last wishes. Monsignor Édouard Massaux, rector of the Catholic University of Louvain, and a friend of the Princess, delivered a deeply moving homily, pondering the mystery of human death and the hope of the Resurrection. He also described the viciously vilified Lilian of Belgium in noble, touching terms:
"It is a great Lady who has just left us... All those who truly knew her well and who often spent time with her knew what she was, knew her brilliant intelligence, her opinions, her passions, her vast culture, her indefectible attachments, her courage in the many ordeals she endured, her great tolerance, her respect for the convictions of others, her unfailing fidelity to the causes dear to her. They knew her acceptance of living in the shadows for many years without the slightest resentment...her very great generosity towards the poor and the most disadvantaged, whom she aided financially, with attentiveness and in total discretion, even traveling abroad if it were necessary to do so."
Christian de Duve, Nobel prize winner and close collaborator of the deceased princess in her Cardiological Foundation, later remembered the precious moments he had spent in the humble but delightful medieval chapel:
"[A]llow me to recall with special emotion those intimate gatherings in the lovely Argenteuil chapel, where, each year, on the 25th of September, the military chaplain Canon Thils with the faithful Guy in attendance, celebrated the souvenir of the late King, and where, on June 10 of last year, we said our last goodbye to our beloved Princess."(Christian de Duve, "Princess Lilian: reminiscences", in Proceedings of the Princess Lilian Cardiology Foundation Symposium to commemorate its Patron, HRH Princess Lilian of Belgium, "Cardiology and cardiovascular surgery at the onset of the XXIst century," Acta Cardiologica- An International Journal of Cardiology, suppl. to volume 59, 2004, p. 16, quoted by Michel Verwilghen in Le mythe d'Argenteuil, 2006, p. 62)
How I wish I had been there, too! R. I. P. King Leopold III and Princess Lilian!
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