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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) Empty King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  May on Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:16 pm

The life of Albert I, the much-loved king who led Belgium through World War I and defended her right to be neutral:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/10/life-of-albert-i.html

An interview with the King during the war. He expressed his anguish over the violation of Belgian neutrality and the cruel treatment of the population by the German invaders/occupiers:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/talk-with-king.html

His terrible death in a mountaineering accident:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/02/february-17-1934-death-of-albert-i.html

Elisabeth as wife and mother:

http://lostinthemythsofhistory.blogspot.com/2011/10/valiant-woman.html

Her war work:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/05/mon-devoir-mon-metier-est-daider.html
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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) Empty Re: King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  May on Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:35 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2776763351_ee222b0d14
König Albert I. von Belgien, King of Belgium by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
A touching wartime postcard of King Albert.
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2789850138_1447078ca2
König Albert I. & Königin Elisabeth von Belgien by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
Husband and wife: the handsome profiles of Albert and Elisabeth.
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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) Empty Re: King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  Elena on Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:42 pm

Thank you VERY much, it s really a treasure to have so many pictures together in one place! Very Happy

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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) Empty Re: King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  May on Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:16 pm

I never saw this one before: Elisabeth with her second son, Charles:

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 5315809743_5452d2facf
Prinzessin Elisabeth von Belgien mit Sohn Charles, future Queen of Beligum with her son Charles by Miss Mertens, on Flickr

It's sad that Charles did not get along well with his older brother Leopold III (to put it mildly!). During his regency (1944-1950), Charles was downright treacherous to the exiled King.

Albert and Elisabeth also had a fourth child, apparently a son, stillborn during World War I. Crying or Very sad Their daughter, Marie-José, talks about it in her memoirs. I always wonder what this prince would have been like, and whether he would have been a better ally to his oldest brother.
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Post  Elena on Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:21 pm

Very interesting! Smile

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Post  May on Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:07 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2433356179_2290efcfcb
3 Generationen belgisches Königshaus, Famille Royal de la Belgique by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
King Albert with Prince Leopold, Princess Astrid and one of their children.
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Post  May on Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:18 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 5110663214_4c1746976e
Young Belgium Prince Albert with his wife Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria by Miss Mertens, on Flickr

She looks at him so INTENSELY! She was madly in love with him, judging by the letters she wrote during their engagement, such as these:

"...I feel so alone and so sad without you. In the few days I have been with you, I have come to love you with all my heart! Truly, I love you so much! As I never would have believed I could love someone. You are so good and kind to me, that it touches me and makes me happy. You know that I cannot express well what I feel for you, but I think you understand me..."

"When will the time come when there will be no more of these terrible separations? I was so happy to have been with you. Every hour we pass together is, for me, the greatest pleasure that exists ... Every time I see you again, I love you even more. How happy I will be the day I no longer have to leave you."

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/marie-joss-memoirs.html
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Post  Elena on Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:15 pm

That is so beautiful. What a lovely devoted couple!

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Post  May on Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:06 pm

Yes, they were. I am heartily SICK of tasteless rumors about this couple. There's been a resurgence of this sort of nastiness lately, with Belgium falling apart. Here is an excerpt from a series of articles I wrote last spring:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/03/defending-saxe-coburgs.html

We come now to Albert I. In his letters, in the reminiscences of various intimates, he emerges as a deeply pure, pious and prayerful soul, although this is often forgotten today, in the poisonous cynicism that has taken over much of Belgian historiography. For many reasons, I am convinced that every aspersion cast upon his private life is a violent outrage. Raised in the virtuous atmosphere of the Palace of Flanders, by pious and charitable parents, Prince Philippe of Belgium and Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a quietly devoted couple, Albert had strict, high moral principles instilled in him at an early age, as evinced by many contemporary accounts.

At 25, he married an enchanting young princess, the sweet, nimble, 24-year-old Elisabeth of Bavaria, daughter of the noted physician and philanthropist, Duke Karl Theodor. The couple shared many humanitarian, social, cultural and intellectual interests. Both highly intelligent and sensitive, husband and wife also had happily contrasting, complementary temperaments. Albert was thoughtful, reflective, reserved, steady, philosophic, realistic, a bit pessimistic; Elisabeth, lively, energetic, spontaneous, imaginative, impulsive, artistic, optimistic. Not surprisingly, then, they fell tenderly, deeply, undeniably in love. This is abundantly proven in their rich correspondence, dating from the time of their engagement and the early years of their marriage. We are far, very far from the floods of tears shed by Louise d'Orléans at her marriage to Leopold I, her terror at the approach of her wedding night; even further from the mutual revulsion of Leopold II and Marie-Henriette of Austria, from the bride's prayer for death to escape her unhappy marriage.

Upon becoming engaged to Elisabeth, Albert promised her infinite love, and unfailing fidelity. Albert had an intense commitment, not only to his wife, but, even more importantly, to marriage itself. More than mere love letters, his missives to his bride are ethical lessons, expressing an edifying ideal of conjugal affection, respect, loyalty and collaboration. Not only in his private life, but also in his public life, Albert evinced this commitment to marriage, as the foundation of the family, and, therefore, as essential to the health of society. During his tour of the Congo in 1909, he noted in his diary various criticisms of the colonial legal code, regretting, for instance, that it failed to adequately penalize adultery. It's unlikely that the King would fail to live up to his own principles in a matter he regarded as so important. This was a man so conscientious, that he regularly exposed himself to danger and hardship in the trenches, even beyond the call of duty; on one occasion, he collapsed, with sheer exhaustion, at the side of a road. This was a man so rigorous, so stern, that he preferred to lead his entire nation, which he deeply loved, to devastation and death, rather than betray his international obligations, as shown by an early draft of a wartime letter to his Bavarian brother-in-law, Count Toerring.

Indeed, for many years, nobody cast doubt on Albert's fidelity. On the contrary, Albert and Elisabeth were revered for their domestic virtues. After the King's ghastly, accidental death at Marche-les-Dames, however, evil tongues soon began to whisper...There were torrid tales of trysts in various castles, of illegitimate children, and even of crimes of passion: it was suggested that the King had been killed by a jealous husband, by an abandoned mistress, or even by the Queen herself (!), in increasingly lurid and improbable scenarios. It seems unfathomably tasteless, and bizarrely at odds with the general mood of awe and sorrow, throughout the world, at the King's passing, to spread such scurrilous stories about a man no longer able to defend himself, who had served his country so magnificently, and who had just died so tragically.

The gossip, moreover, was unsubstantiated. Although the rumors have persisted to this day, Patrick Weber notes, there's no solid evidence that the King had any affairs, at all. (And Weber is certainly not shy about discussing genuine liaisons, which he invariably relates in an open, non-judgmental fashion; he even wrote a whole book on the topic). Even Paul Beliën, who normally relishes salacious details, resorts to a suspicious vagueness in this matter, while nonetheless boldly proclaiming that Albert became unfaithful towards the end of his life. This idea, however, makes no sense. After so long, so strong a commitment to marriage and family, why would Albert suddenly throw his moral principles to the winds, in his last years? Virtue becomes easier, not harder, with practice. How does gold turn into dross?

The children of Albert and Elisabeth, King Leopold III of the Belgians and Queen Marie-José of Italy, movingly maintained that their parents' love never dissipated; if anything, it only deepened through the years. Other distinguished, thoughtful and sincere contemporaries of Albert and Elisabeth paint a picture of a very simple, sober, orderly and upright couple, quietly devoted to each other throughout their marriage. Furthermore, in his last years, rather than degenerating, Albert apparently improved. As Charles d'Ydewalle indicates, he became more and more physically austere, giving up smoking his Italian cigars, and drinking nothing but water after 1915. As he grew older, his dislike of gluttony was extended to those who indulged in it. In the light of this temperance; this asceticism, even, debauchery seems incredibly implausible. In her memoirs, Albert's daughter also relates that he began to see problems in a more and more elevated manner during his final years. She describes his efforts to conquer faults of character. Irascible from childhood, often frustrated with the iron fetters of his constitutional position, he nevertheless succeeded in overcoming his fits of impatience. How could he take such care to avoid these venial sins, while blithely committing mortal sins, in the same general period? (Yes, mortal sins; I feel that the permissive attitudes of our day make it hard for some people to understand the gravity of unchastity, for a believing, practicing Catholic, especially in those traditional times). This brings us to a final point: during his last years, it seems, Albert became more and more devoted to God. The wise and noble Abbot of Orval, who knew the King well, mentioned his efforts to be prepared, at any moment, for divine judgment, and testified to his great peace of conscience. He also suggested that the King's private life, if anything, was even more beautiful than his public life; perhaps, because only in private did his faith have free rein.
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Post  May on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:29 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2318501901_ec68081b54
der spätere König Leopold III. von Belgien lernt Geige spielen, Crownprince of Belgium learns the violin by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
Here is a description of the Royal Family's austere life during the early years of the reign of Albert I, by M. Vital Plas, one of the tutors of the young Princes. In later years, the King and Queen only drank water in private and followed a vegetarian diet. The King also gave up smoking.

The King rose very early and walked in the park, after which he took a light breakfast between 7 and 8 A.M., and began to work. The Queen breakfasted somewhat later. Her children came to her about ten o'clock; they were in the habit of bringing her flowers, this at the King's suggestion...Luncheon was taken at twelve, en famille; some members of the royal household took part in it, and on occasions the King or the Queen invited a visitor who had been received in the morning...There were only two courses and dessert. The King always insisted on a separate course of vegetables which the children were obliged to eat, whether they liked it or not. "It is necessary for your health," he told them. They drank wine mixed with water, or beer, sometimes a glass of champagne, when there was a guest.

Coffee, smoking and talk followed, but the King never allowed the Queen to stay long, as she was ordered to rest for an hour. When she delayed he urged her to go, leading her by the shoulder to the door.

The King resumed work with his secretaries or one of the ministers, and gave audiences until dinner when he had no ceremony to attend. The Queen either received her friends or went to a concert, an art exhibition, a hospital, or visited the sick privately. When they lived at Laeken, which they much preferred to the Brussels palace, they returned as early as possible in the afternoon. The King used to take motor rides in the neighbourhood. Before or after dinner, he and the Queen would walk arm in arm in the park; they visited the children's gardens and the beehives which supplied the Palace with honey.

Dinner was served at seven-thirty; it was frugal and strictly intimate, neither strangers nor members of the household being invited. It was short and the children went to bed soon afterwards. When the parents had not to attend some theatre or concert, they spent the evening reading and retired early. Sometimes there was music. (Quoted by Emile Cammaerts in Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right, Macmillan Company, New York, 1935, pp. 402-403)
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Post  May on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:41 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 02738_m121287_std_122_555lo
In 1933, to mark the 1900th anniversary of the Redemption, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. With his usual piety and simplicity, the King was seen praying at all the sanctuaries; with his usual thoughtfulness, meditating upon the Gospel in solitude. A beautiful photograph taken by the Queen, and published in Le Roi Albert et les missions (1936), shows the King standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, intently reading his New Testament. As pictured above, the royal couple also visited the Garden of Olives. According to Emile Cammaerts in Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right (1935), when the King and Queen were shown, in Jerusalem, the site of Pilate's praetorium, they were so moved by the words of their learned guide, a Father of the École Biblique, that they spontaneously knelt before the steps leading to the first station of the Via Dolorosa.The King of the Belgians, who would himself die tragically, only a year later, at the feet of a rustic crucifix in the Ardennes, contemplated the sacrifice of Christ where the King of Kings had prepared for His Passion.
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Post  May on Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:22 am

Memories of the Queen, from Russian artist Catherine Barjansky:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/02/queen-in-park.html

In Chapter 14 of her memoirs, Portraits with Backgrounds, entitled "A Queen in a Park," Catherine Barjansky recalls Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Mme. Barjansky had met the Queen during the 1920's at an exhibition of the artist's sculptures in Brussels. She was soon invited to do the Queen's portrait, and a friendship arose between Elisabeth and herself. Mme. Barjansky portrays the Belgian queen as a deeply poetic and intellectual woman of great charm, simplicity, warmth, kindness. The artist writes:

After a half-dozen sittings my wax sculpture of the Queen of Belgium was finished, but in the meantime a sort of friendship had grown up between us. She was easy to talk to because she was understanding, direct, and sincere, and entirely lacking in pose. She began asking me to stay after my work for the day was finished, and then to lunch as well.

That too was completely informal. Luncheon was served in her drawing-room; a table already set was rolled in on wheels by two footmen, another table was brought in on which silver-covered dishes stood on electric heaters, and coffee was served in a blue thermos bottle. The footmen left, and we were alone, waiting on each other. Once I remember the Queen smiled her mischievous smile as she offered me a new dish. "Do try some," she urged me. "It is our national dish. I have never liked it, but as I never dared tell the cook, I am always having it."

I liked her not because she was a queen, but because she had the soul of an artist and of an elf, a strange, half-human, half-divine being from legendary forests. She loved the great park at Laeken; her real life was centered on it. She and the King had a warm friendship with the old gardener, Monsieur Parat... I often saw him walking with the King in the park, where he had a little house in which he lived with his family...

In the river that crossed the park there were hundreds of swans, white ones and black. Often the gardener came to tell the Queen that a new swan had been born or to show her nests where there were swan's eggs.

Once at luncheon the Queen started to tell me something about the greenhouse. "What!" she exclaimed. "You have never seen it? Quick, let's finish lunch and go there." I followed her light quick steps as we hurried to the greenhouse. It was celebrated in Brussels, with its exotic flowers, orchids, and a pergola miles long over whose arch hung fuchsia. It was fantastically beautiful. It was that day she discovered I loved flowers, and never again did I leave the palace without my arms filled with them, placed in the carriage for me at the Queen's orders.

We began to take long walks in the park, talking, talking, for her interests were universal. One day she said she would like to paint in the park with me.

"Madame, I should be delighted," I replied, and I began to tell her some of my ideas about painting.

"Wait a minute," she exclaimed, and she ran out of the room and came back with some water-colors. "Now show me what you mean."

As we were bending over her work the door opened, and an unusually tall man with a beautiful head, even features, blue eyes, and blond hair appeared.

"Am I disturbing you?"

"Oh no," she said. "Come in."

That was Albert, the King of Belgium. He spoke slowly, in a low voice, with a pronounced Germanic accent. He squinted near-sightedly through a pince-nez. With almost as much simplicity as his wife, he talked to me for a moment about my husband, whom he knew, and about my son. Then he urged the Queen to go to some audience. Compared with her husband she was tiny...

The Queen of Belgium did not live in accordance with the usual ideas of court life. She rose early and after a light breakfast began to practice violin, either alone or with her teacher. If it were necessary, she went to the palace in Brussels for an audience or to receive a delegation, and she visited a number of charities and exhibitions. Every day she took a lesson in Flemish, which is not an easy language, as she was obliged to reply in that tongue when she opened bazaars in the Flemish part of Belgium. In the afternoons she often made music with other musicians or had someone play for her. In the evenings, if their presence was not required for an opening of some sort, the King and Queen remained alone at Laeken, taking long walks in the park or sitting before the fireplace while she read aloud to him. They were a devoted couple.

Once, when I knew her better, I asked: "Where did you meet the King for the first time?"

"Oh, that was in Paris in the house of my aunt, the Queen of Naples."

"And was it at once the coup de foudre?"

Her eyes sparkled. "I thought he was wonderful," she said simply.

They were a love match and they were happy. Together they visited all the corners of the earth, to see people, to learn about things. Like her, the King was insatiably curious and unwilling to be hedged around with court etiquette. They were wonderful companions and devoted parents to their three children, the handsome Prince Leopold, the strange and gloomy Prince Charles, and Princess Marie-José, who was extremely tall, with a thick bunch of curly blond hair and blue eyes...

More and more often I visited the Queen during that three-month visit to Brussels, and always after that, whenever I returned to Belgium, I spent most of my time with her in the park...

On a very gray day the Queen sent for me. She was waiting impatiently when I arrived and said: "Don't take off your coat. Come out into the park. I must show you something."

We hurried downstairs and into the park, walking until we reached a part which I did not know at all.

"Now," she said in excitement. "Close your eyes and give me your hand. Don't open your eyes until I tell you." We walked for a few moments, and then she said triumphantly, "Now!"

We stood in a little field completely blue with forget-me-nots, with a few trees laden with yellow blossoms. The sky was a deep heavy gray, and the whole composition gave the effect of an impressionistic picture.

The Queen was radiant. "Isn't it beautiful?" she exclaimed...

Court circles are rarely noted for their brilliance, but the Queen preferred to surround herself not with the usual court groups but with creative people - musicians, artists, writers, scientists. She wanted to know them, to grasp their ideas, and, as a result, she had a number of close friendships among such people.

And sometimes, during those long hours, I asked her about the First World War in which she proved herself to be a splendid nurse.

"Looking back now," she said, "I don't know how I was able to do it. When I first visited the hospitals and saw the wounded, I would cry. Finally the doctor told me I could not behave like that. Unless I pulled myself together, I would do more harm than good. It is amazing what you can endure, how much suffering and sorrow and blood and wounds and dead bodies one can see.

Once I remember visiting a battlefield after a battle. The sun had just gone down. The earth was black and damp, and there was a little pool of water red with blood. Lying beside it was a handsome boy, so blond, his helmet beside him. The doctors and I buried him, and I sent his medal to his mother. Oh, it was terrible. I could not do it again!"

But the next day a telephone call came from the palace, asking me not to come. There had been a great disaster at the mines, and the Queen had gone, smiling and compassionate, to console the distraught wives of the miners. Once more she was making the effort that she had said was impossible.

Soon, Mme. Barjansky was teaching the Queen the art of sculpting.

The Queen loved sculpture, and she had the satisfaction, rare for royalty, of knowing that she had accomplished it all herself. I never touched her clay. After her first lesson she was still so excited that I stayed on, and for two hours we walked in the park while she bombarded me with questions about sculpture. I remember, because it was a typical gesture of this elfin queen, that on the way back she caught a firefly and held it to her watch to tell the time...
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Post  May on Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:12 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 5520420352_b5a0ba7af0
König Albert I. von Belgien, King of Belgium 1875 – 1934 by Miss Mertens, on Flickr

This picture is one of my favorites. The King LOVED the mountains.
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Post  Mata Hari on Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:09 pm

This is so impressive, I have learned a great deal about this admirable couple! sunny

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Post  May on Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:45 pm

The Mad Monarchist just posted a wonderful article on Queen Elisabeth's life:

http://madmonarchist.blogspot.com/2011/11/consort-profile-queen-elisabeth-of.html

The saying that, ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ was never more true in this case. King Albert I of the Belgians was a great man in every way and the great woman behind him was Elisabeth of Bavaria. She was the greatest support to her husband and the backbone of the Belgian Royal Family in what would be the darkest hour of their history up to that time. She was born Elisabeth Gabriele Valerie Marie, Duchess in Bavaria, at Possenhofen Castle in Bavaria and was named after her aunt, the famous Empress of Austria. She grew up in Bavaria as a very well rounded young lady; intelligent, curious, loving art and music (passions she would retain throughout her life) at home outdoors and utterly fearless. She was small, refined, very delicate looking, lacking, perhaps, the dazzling beauty of her famous aunt but graceful, with refined features and a rather statuesque appearance. Her appearance and her love of painting, sculpting and music (encouraged by her father who was also the artistic type) would make some consider her fragile, but she could climb the rugged hills and mountains of the Bavarian Alps with the best of them and she did not shy away from unpleasant sights while serving in the eye-clinic established by her father Duke Karl Theodor who was a noted ophthalmologist.

On October 2, 1900, in Munich, she married HRH Prince Albert of Belgium, then second in line to the throne after his father following the death of Prince Baudouin. The two would become one of the most perfectly wedded royal couples of their time. They were devoted to each other, anxious to be of service, devoutly religious and shared many interests. In 1905 Prince Albert’s father died and he was suddenly heir to the throne and Princess Elisabeth was set to become the next Queen of the Belgians. Her gracious manners, charm and petite figure were tailor-made to win over the public but the Bavarian princess was made of tough stuff. It would take some time for the world to realize that, but those around her learned right away. She carried herself in such a way as to command respect and even the formidable King Leopold II watched his language when in her presence. A disapproving glare was all Elisabeth required to make her feelings known and, in 1909 when her husband became King Albert I of the Belgians and she became Queen, she set a new moral tone for the Royal Family. No longer would the court be the focus of scandals, business deals and public relations battles. Queen Elisabeth made the court a center of charity, artistic appreciation and Catholic morality.

It was a happy period for the couple. Elisabeth loved Albert intensely and had from the very start. She was the most supportive, comforting and affectionate wife a King could ask for. Children had come quickly with the future King Leopold III born in 1901, Prince Charles Theodore born in 1903 and Princess Marie Jose born in 1906, destined to be the last Queen of Italy. She was a devoted and caring mother, doting especially on her eldest. This is seen, perhaps best, in the care she took for the education, secular and religious, for her children. They were a very close family and it was largely to the credit of the virtuous Queen Elisabeth that the reputation of the Belgian monarchy improved dramatically as people saw the little group as the ideal Royal Family. There is no such thing as perfection in this life, however, and soon their domestic bliss was shattered by the outbreak of World War I. The Imperial German Army, the most powerful military force in the world, was soon knocking at the door of “gallant little Belgium” and King Albert I famously refused their demand for passage through his kingdom. The Germans might conquer Belgium but they were going to have to fight for every last foot of ground of it. This was even more painful for the Queen as some of the men leading the Bavarian regiments of the German army were her own family. Yet, there was never the slightest question about where her loyalties rested.

As per the constitution, King Albert was thrust into the role of field commander of the Belgian army and it was a colossal strain. Outmatched in every way, after the Germans brought up specialized, Austrian heavy artillery, the main Belgian forts were knocked out and the King made his stand at Antwerp. When that city could no longer be defended they carried out a fighting retreat down the coast before finally stopping the Germans at the Yser River, just inside the Belgian border on a tiny patch of waterlogged Flemish farmland. Queen Elisabeth supported her husband every step of the way and who can say what would have happened had she not been there to do so. Everyone did their part. The King managed the war effort, the young Crown Prince Leopold joined the infantry and went to the front and Queen Elisabeth began working as a nurse, a job well suited to her. She established a hospital to care for the wounded Belgian soldiers, worked there herself and was responsible for a great deal of the relief effort in caring for civilians and soldiers alike. Despite her intense sorrow at the horrors surrounding her, she remained strong, confident and optimistic. Generals down to common soldiers praised her for her care in the titanic task she undertook. And, fearless as always, the Queen did not hesitate to join her husband in going up to the front lines.

In those hard, terrible days of World War I, in Flanders on the western front, the whole world saw what the Belgian Queen was made of; she was not so delicate as she appeared. The Queen set an example for everyone around her, enduring enemy shelling, trips to the trenches and all the hardships of war without flinching but always looking for what more she could do. Part of this included her establishment of an orphanage for the children suffering from the war. No one met her who was not impressed by her. When the nightmare finally passed, when Belgium was finally liberated, she rode alongside the King in their triumphant return to Brussels. The following year, in 1919, she accompanied her husband to the United States where the American people cheered them as the first heroes of a war they had been late to enter. In 1928 and again in 1932 the Queen accompanied her husband on tours of the Belgian Congo where the city of Elisabethville was named in her honor. She was just as close and supporting a wife as she had always been and shared with the King a desire to see the vast Belgian colony improved, reformed and modernized. However, only a few years later in 1934 King Albert I died in a mountain climbing accident. Queen Elisabeth was crushed by the loss and would never be quite the same again.

As Queen mother, Elisabeth continued to encourage the arts and sciences (befriending Albert Einstein among other prominent thinkers). During World War II she used what connections she still had in Germany to help save the lives of numerous Jewish children. She never changed. However, after 1934 it was as if she was only counting the days until she could be reunited with her beloved husband. Still, she remained devoted to her causes, her family and her country, going her own way even when it caused controversy until she finally went to join her beloved husband on November 23, 1965 in Brussels. Queen Elizabeth was, at times, unorthodox but she was also the ideal consort by every measure. She adored her husband and was his strongest support in his most difficult days, she was a devoted mother, provided well for the succession and she was fearless in her care for her adopted country. She was, in every way, a great Queen.
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Post  Elena on Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:22 pm

I am so glad you found and posted this wonderful article from MM.

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Post  May on Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:45 am

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2888015236_6caf61f051
Prinz Albert von Flandern, später König Albert I. von Belgien by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
A fierce little picture of Albert as a child.
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2748500271_b10a08eb04
Königin Elisabeth von Belgien, Queen of Beligum by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
Elisabeth's beautiful semi-profile.
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 3253353130_982e2acf9f
König Albert I. von Belgien mit Tochter Marie Jose by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
The King with his beloved daughter, Princess Marie-José.
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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) Empty Re: King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  May on Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:54 am

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 3465903378_eb6eec6a61
Königin Elisabeth von Belgien, Queen of Belgium by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
A wartime postcard with a touching poem in Elisabeth's honor.
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Post  Elena on Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:09 am

Thank you for posting such rare and marvelous photos!

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Post  May on Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:10 pm

You are most welcome, but of course it is mostly Albert and Elisabeth who should get the credit!
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Post  May on Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:31 am

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) 2739203748_1885069208
Kronprinzessin Astrid von Belgien mit Schiwiegervater König Albert I., future Queen of Belgien by Miss Mertens, on Flickr

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/albert-astrid.html
Here we see King Albert with his daughter-in-law, Princess Astrid. The two were close, and, in fact, were alike in many ways. Both were members of collateral branches of their respective royal families. Albert had been the nephew of his predecessor, Leopold II of Belgium. Astrid was the niece of King Gustav V of Sweden. Neither Albert nor Astrid expected the role they were destined to play. Albert only became the heir to the Belgian throne at the age of 16. Astrid did not plan on marrying a Crown Prince. Both felt inadequate for their public role. Throughout his life, Albert regretted the loss of his older brother, Baudouin, whom he considered his superior in every way. Similarly, when Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium proposed to Astrid, she had difficulty, initially, imagining herself as a future Queen. As a result, despite her deep love for Leopold, she hesitated to accept his offer. Encouraged, however, by her close childhood friend, Anna Sparre, she agreed to marry the Belgian prince. Both Albert and Astrid were shy, sensitive, humble, serious, and religious. Each had a happy marriage and three children; two sons and a daughter. Both were devoted to Belgium and deeply loved by the Belgian people. Despite their misgivings, both fulfilled their public function admirably. Tragically, both died prematurely, in terrible accidents, while trying to relax in the mountains; Albert in 1934 and Astrid in 1935. (Strangely, they even died of the same kind of wound to the skull; Leopold remarked on the grisly similarity). Both were deeply mourned by the Belgians and their royal family. A special memorial book of photographs was published in their honor. Their loss weighed heavily on the history of the Belgian monarchy. Crying or Very sad
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Post  May on Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:09 am

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/filial-tribute.html
In 1975, the centenary of the birth of King Albert I, his son, the former King Leopold III, granted an interview to La Revue Générale, in which he discussed Albert's life and character, and recalled the deep affection between himself and his father. It is a moving tribute, very much to the credit of both Albert and Leopold. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

I felt very close to my father; a great affection united us and I admired him greatly. I will tell you what I loved most in him: his kindness, his moderation, his sense of honor, his respect for the human person, his freedom of thought, his tolerance; as well as his moral rigor, his simplicity, his wonderful balance, a balance which enabled him to overcome, with ease and serenity, the difficulties of life.

His simple tastes have often been mentioned. It is true that he was simplicity itself. He enjoyed neither the honors nor the ceremonies to which he was bound; he endured them as a duty of his charge. He lived simply at Laeken, and even more so, with his family at La Panne, during the First World War.

He was authentic and genuine, and all frauds irritated him. He had a horror of boasting and vanity, and detested... flatterers. True human contact was always precious to him. That is why he loved to talk with his people, and, when he went unrecognized, he was all the happier for it. It is also why he loved the guides who accompanied him on his climbs in the mountains. With them, he was an alpinist and no more. His hours in the mountains would be the happiest of his life, after those he spent with his family.

We really were a family. My father and my mother were united by a wonderful love... and this love never weakened: a love which needed no words and demonstrations, but which was the substance and the happiness of their life. It is a great privilege for children to grow up with a couple who never ceased to give the image of a perfect union...

My affection for my father was the light of my youth. He concerned himself with us, our games, our problems, our formation. How often did we walk together in the park at Laeken, which we loved so much! We used to talk of so many things. This moment, which I looked forward to so much, was one of my joys. We were close, and alone...

Despite the tragic circumstances, my father and my mother were happy during the war. It actually gave them the opportunity to give the best of themselves; my father, in the trenches with his soldiers, my mother, with the wounded.

My father was fundamentally a man of peace, who was forced into war. He was always convinced that a country must be ready to defend itself, if its cause were just. I will never forget something he said to me, and, above all, the circumstances under which he said it to me. It was in 1914, in Antwerp, when we were boarding the ship for England. He was serious, for the situation was tragic. He was thinking, no doubt, that we were parting for a long time, perhaps forever.

He said to me, then: "You will look after the army. Belgium must always have a good army." It was his last piece of advice. I was twelve years old, and I have always remembered it...

Throughout the war, he remained unshakably attached to a principle: that of sparing the blood of his soldiers. That is why he insisted on retaining the unique command of the Belgian army and why he condemned the mad and murderous offensives on certain fronts...

Events proved him right. He rendered immense services to the Allied cause, but he did it while respecting the life and honor of his soldiers, and while taking care that no futile sacrifice be permitted.

Perhaps, it is for this reason, that my father, who had become, for Belgium and the world, the "Knight-King," was able to return, so normally, to the tasks of peace. Peace was his world, restored to him. We know, with what scrupulousness, and with what tenacity, he consecrated himself to his task. He realized how great is the action of an attentive sovereign, and he saw his ministers frequently, and presided at their Council every time important decisions were at stake: he insisted on this...

He took tremendous care to keep himself informed. Early in the morning, he found the time to read journals and reviews, including the foreign press. He made notes as he read. He answered letters which, he considered, merited a personal reply. He read and spoke several languages. His readings were not limited to the press: he liked to categorize himself as a 'great reader', with many different interests, from literature to technology to the sciences. My father was also very painstaking; he insisted on accuracy and precision...

I would like to say so much more! His respect for others was so great that he hesitated to influence even his own children. Every human being must be himself: that is why he disliked servility to orders [?], and that is why he found it difficult to forgive those who had deceived him or who had taken advantage of him. That is also why loyalty was so important to this man, who made it the rule of his life...

Such was my father, whose memory haunts my life: a man of deep faith, yet who hated intolerance; a man who was famous throughout the world, yet wonderfully simple; a man of duty who never, for a moment, forgot those who had been entrusted to him; very timid, yet very courageous; a man who was genuine, and who needs no legend in order to remain a fruitful memory and an admirable example, a man who was also, for me - and above all- my father.

(Translated from the transcript of the interview recorded by Rémy in Le 18e jour: la tragédie de Léopold III, roi des Belges, 1976, pp. 28-35)
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Post  May on Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:14 am

November 23 will be the anniversary of the death of Queen Elisabeth, who succumbed to heart failure at age 89. She had survived her husband by 31 years.

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2010/11/death-of-queen-elisabeth.html

It is a touching coincidence that the old Queen passed away only four days after the feast of her patron saint, Elizabeth of Hungary, whom she greatly admired. The year before her death, the beloved heroine of the trenches and the field hospitals of World War I had also attended a review of the surviving Belgian veterans of 1914-1918. Weak as she was, she had insisted on coming, but had been obliged to watch the review from her car, propped up with cushions and blankets. It had been a very emotional occasion. Both the aged Queen and the dwindling group of veterans seemed to sense that this would be their last meeting on earth...

...Her loss was a cruel blow to her eldest son, King Leopold III. Their relationship had been very close. Throughout all the troubles of Leopold's life, he had always counted on his mother's unfailing love and support. After the news of her death reached him at Argenteuil, his nine-year-old daughter, Esmeralda, was astonished to see tears streaming down his face. It was the first time she had witnessed him weeping. Still unaware that her grandmother had passed away, the little princess asked the reason for her father's sadness. "Since last night," he replied, "I no longer have a mother." (Quoted by Michel Verwilghen in Le Mythe d'Argenteuil, 2006, p. 298). Esmeralda, too, was then deeply affected, as she had been very fond of her grandmother. By contrast, Elisabeth's estranged second son, Prince Charles, who had long resented his mother's preference for Leopold, refused to attend her funeral. The ceremony, however, was one of the rare public appearances of King Leopold III and his second wife, Princess Lilian, in the company of King Baudouin I and Queen Fabiola. (Rare, that is, since the division between the two kings, father and son, following Leopold's abdication and departure from Brussels). Remembering her artistic, poetic mother-in-law's passion for orchids, Lilian placed an orchid between Elisabeth's joined hands at her lying-in-state. (Lilian's daughter, Esmeralda, relates this thoughtful gesture in her memoirs, Léopold III, mon père).

Elisabeth's daughter, Queen Marie-José of Italy, rather charmingly told her biographer Luciano Regolo that she always had trouble taking her mother's death seriously. The Belgian queen had been so full of life that Marie-José continued to feel as though she were still alive and might walk in at any moment, returned from the foreign travels she loved. In these sombre days of November, the month dedicated to the dead and the Holy Souls in Purgatory, let's hope and pray that this brave and generous lady may, indeed, live eternally with God, and return in glory at the Resurrection.
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Post  Elena on Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:20 am

Beautiful! May she rest in peace!

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