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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) - Page 2 Empty King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

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

First topic message reminder :

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) - Page 2 Empty Re: King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965)

Post  May on Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:33 am

Your kind comments always mean so much to me!

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 3952194999_2428bfcdc0
König Albert I. und Königin Elisabeth von Belgien mit Auguste Piccard by Miss Mertens, on Flickr

Albert and Elisabeth with August Piccard. The King and Queen were avid patrons of the arts and sciences.

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 3780653696_cc7abb57cf
König Albert I. und Königin Elisabeth von Belgien, King and Queen of Belgium by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
This is one of the last photographs of the royal couple together, although there is an even later one, published in their daughter's memoirs, which is very beautiful. I wish I could post that one here, both Albert and Elisabeth look so happy and smiling in it, whereas here the King looks rather concerned.

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 3779841411_6d9d8e2494
Königin Elisabeth von Belgien mit Enkelin Josephine Charlotte, Queen of Belgium and future Grand Duchess of Luxemburg by Miss Mertens, on Flickr
Elisabeth in her later years with her grand-daughter Joséphine-Charlotte.
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Post  May on Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:36 am

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 Albert10
I want to write a novel about this family.
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Post  May on Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:31 pm

The French Catholic poet, dramatist, and diplomat, Paul Claudel, was a friend of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. I came across Claudel's beautiful tribute to Albert, dated February 18, 1934. The previous day, the King had died tragically while climbing the cliffs of Marche-les-Dames. His death was a terrible shock to Claudel.

Informé ce matin de l'accident, j'ai cru d'abord qu'il s'était produit loin d'ici, en Suisse. Le roi, grand alpiniste, faisait souvent des ascensions très perilleuses. Le site ou il devait trouver la mort, hélas! avait été récemment classé. Le souverain, qui le connaissait bien, a voulu le revoir à cette occasion. On suppose qu'un quartier de roche a cédé sous lui.

Je ne puis vous dire toute l'étendue de ma tristesse. Dans ma longue carrière, il m'a été donné d'approcher bien des hommes, il m'est rarement arrivé d'en trouver de cette qualité. Le roi était simple dans la grandeur. Il aimait les humbles. Il cherchait l'occasion de les approcher et trouvait pour chacun le mot gentil, la reflexion intelligente qui touche et qui frappe. Malgré tous les lourds devoirs de sa charge, il s'empressait à faire plaisir. Il y a une quinzaine de jours encore, il avait tenu à assister en personne à une representation de "l'Annonce faite à Marie," au Palais des Beaux-Arts, et m'avait parlé de ma pièce de la façon la plus fine et la plus simple, avec la plus grande bienvieillance.

Esprit très noble, très élevé, il avait cependant un sens très juste des réalités, trouvant et définissant parfaitement le sens concret de toutes choses.

...[J'ai vu le roi pour la dernière fois] à la dernière fête donnée à la cour. Je me rappelle aujourd'hui avec mélancolie combien le roi et la reine paraissaient heureux de la brillante réussite de cette soirée. Le roi souriait en me parlant et il semble que la Providence lui ait donné alors une dernière occasion de toucher le coeur de tous ceux qui l'aimaient et qu'il aimait, de prendre en quelque sort congé de ses amis et de son peuple.

Sa mort est une perte terrible, non seulement pour la Belgique mais pour l'Europe entière...


Translation:

Informed, this morning, of the accident, I thought at first that it had happened far from here, in Switzerland. The king, a great alpinist, often did very dangerous climbs. The place where he would meet his death, alas! had recently been classified. The sovereign, who knew it well, wanted to see it again on this occasion. They suppose that part of the cliff collapsed under him.

I cannot tell you the full extent of my sorrow. In my long career, it has been granted to me to become close to many men, but it has rarely happened that I have found men of this quality. The king was simple in greatness. He loved humble people. He sought opportunities to become close to them and found, for each, the kind word, the intelligent reflection that touches and strikes. Despite all the heavy duties of his charge, he made strenuous efforts to please. Only fifteen days or so ago, he had insisted on attending, in person, a performance of "The Tidings Brought to Mary", at the Palace of Fine Arts, and he had spoken to me of my piece in the finest, simplest fashion, with the greatest kindness.

A very noble, very elevated spirit, he possessed, nonetheless, a very accurate sense of realities, finding and defining perfectly the concrete meaning of all things.

...[I saw the king for the last time] at the last celebration held at court. Today, I remember with sadness how happy the king and queen seemed with the brilliant success of that evening. The king smiled as he spoke to me, and it seems that Providence had given him, on that occasion, a last opportunity to touch the hearts of all those who loved him and whom he loved, to take his leave, as it were, of his friends and his people.

His death is a terrible loss, not only for Belgium but for all of Europe.


(Supplément aux oeuvres complètes, vol. II, by Paul Claudel, Maryse Bazaud, 1991, pp. 219-220)
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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 Empty Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right

Post  May on Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:05 am

Here is my review of Emile Cammaerts' biography of the King. Cammaerts was also the author of many other interesting works on Belgian history, among others, a defense of Albert's son, entitled The Prisoner at Laeken: King Leopold, Legend and Fact (1941).
I recently read Emile Cammaerts' Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right (1935), a famous and beautiful biography of the brave, thoughtful, gracious and beloved third King of the Belgians. It is tinged with sadness by the terrible events of the First World War and by the violent, untimely death of the King in a mountaineering accident. Opening with his courageous decision to defend with arms Belgium's right and duty to be neutral, it tells the dramatic story of his life in a noble, rigorous and eloquent manner. His love for God, his fellow man, his family and the people of Belgium are all conveyed with poignant intensity. Rare and beautiful photographs and samples of the King's delicate, even handwriting, assist in bringing to life a rich and sensitive personality. Particularly moving are the pictures of the royal couple's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, including a beautiful scene of Albert and Elisabeth in the Garden of Olives. I was glad that Cammaerts emphasized the role of Catholicism in the lives of the King and Queen, as it tends to be overlooked today. It is generally known that Albert's mother, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, was a fervent Catholic who gave her children a strict religious upbringing; it is less well known that her son continued his theological studies, on his own initiative, for several years after becoming heir to the throne. At his desk in Brussels, he kept a bronze cast of Cardinal Mercier's hand, holding a small crucifix, so that he could not raise his eyes from his work without seeing the image. A lady who hosted him during the war noticed that he kept a prayer-book on his night-stand and read a few pages every evening. The Imitation of Christ was always at his bedside. At the royal family's idyllic country retreat of Ciergnon, he used to go to Confession at the village church, humbly taking his place in line, and refusing to go before his turn. He was an ardent admirer of monastic and missionary discipline. Simple and conscientious in his daily religious practice, Albert was also capable of moments of mystical exaltation, as the author illustrates through the testimonies of his intimates. One morning, for example, during a Mass in the Belgian Congo, the King was deeply touched by the sight of a poor, ailing, miserable old negro, approaching Holy Communion alongside some white officers. It was one of the few times that Albert expressed strong emotion in public. On another occasion, 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 both 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 suffered. Cammaerts notes that he was never able to discover an instance of Albert acting against his conscience. Although some of his decisions may have been mistaken, the author indicates, the King never appears to have adopted a course of action he did not sincerely consider just as well as prudent. He was a man of rare nobility and sweetness of soul.
http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/12/albert-of-belgium-defender-of-right.html
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Post  May on Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:45 pm

Today, December 23, is the anniversary of Albert's accession. I like the fact that he came to the throne just two days before Christmas. Belgians acclaimed their new earthly king almost on the eve of celebrating the birth of their heavenly King. sunny
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Post  May on Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:26 pm

A sad anniversary today; on February 17, 1934, the Belgians lost a great king under strange and tragic circumstances. Crying or Very sad
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Post  Elena on Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:35 pm

Oh, thank you for the reminder. Sad

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Post  May on Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:30 pm

I really love this photograph of King Albert with his son, Prince Leopold, his daughter-in-law, Princess Astrid and his two eldest grandchildren, Joséphine-Charlotte and Baudouin.
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 73785310
Albert has a sombre but gentle look.
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Post  May on Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:59 pm

Queen Elisabeth and her daughter-in-law Princess Lilian: a few thoughts.

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2012/03/elisabeth-and-lilian.html

Two of my favorite Belgian royal ladies, Queen Elisabeth and her daughter-in-law, Princess Lilian, had much in common. Both were vivacious, intelligent, spirited, elegant, charming, forthright, brave, determined and loyal. Each had an intense love for her husband and sovereign. Both were war heroines, although Lilian is rarely given credit for her courage during World War II, particularly during the royal family's deportation and captivity in Germany and Austria. Elisabeth, on the other hand, is generally admired for her tireless support of her people during two brutal invasions, her nursing efforts during World War I and her attempts to save Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Both Elisabeth and Lilian were generous humanitarians, passionate patronesses of medicine. Both created beautiful, cultivated environments. Each sought the friendship of the most interesting personalities of her time. It is not surprising that Elisabeth seems to have enjoyed Lilian and even to have played an important role in encouraging her romance and marriage with her son. It is also understandable that King Leopold III, who deeply admired his mother, would choose a similar woman to be his wife.
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Post  May on Sat Apr 07, 2012 1:30 am

This is an awful story, every driver's worst nightmare:

When Albert was returning by automobile to Brussels from Louvain in January [1921?] his vehicle knocked down two children in the village of Kesselds; a girl of five was killed outright and a boy of eight, seriously injured.

Albert, who was in the car, was greatly perturbed and carried the body of the little girl to her parents' cottage and sought to console them in their loss. He fetched two doctors to attend the injured boy. They had dashed out into the road from behind a truck which obscured the oncoming car and were under the wheels of the royal automobile before the driver saw them. (Wanda Larson, Elisabeth: A Biography: From Bavarian Princess to Queen of the Belgians, 1997, p. 87)
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Post  Julygirl on Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:10 am

Oh, how horrible. I know how those winding roads in Europe are. Crying or Very sad
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Post  May on Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:07 pm

An old account of the engagement of Albert and Elisabeth, quoted from Charles d'Ydewalle's 1935 biography of the King:

On the stroke of five, the military band in the next room struck up a waltz; the doors of the Charlemagne salon opened, and the procession entered. At its head was the slight figure of Princess Elisabeth, walking with slow steps. She wore a white satin dress cut just low enough to show her smooth delicately-shaped shoulders and the graceful column of her throat. A simple coronet circled her chestnut curls. There was a burning blush on her cheeks- she was obviously moved. The Prince's face matched the crimson ribbon on his breast. They talked to each other as they moved along; the Princess, who looked even lovelier than on the previous night, gazed up at her tall cavalier.

When they had taken their seats, she had eyes for no one but the Prince who was on her left. She took no heed of the King of Roumania on her other side, the Regent who was seated a little further away, nor of the score of princes and princesses who were present. The tiny pages shyly offered their dishes that were handed to them by the footmen. I noticed that the young Princess scarcely took anything; she ate nothing, but talked incessantly to Prince Albert who would nervously crumble his bread whenever the King of Roumania claimed his fiancée's attention for a minute. The two seemed to be absorbed in a world of their own. No one could see them without realizing that this Prince and Princess were true lovers, and that this was their hour; the throne, the historic past evoked by the setting, their exalted rank, their dazzling surroundings might have been non-existent. Their only thoughts were for each other, for their future life together. Their love shed such a lustre over them that everything paled beside them, or, rather, was transfigured, gaining in nobility what was lost in brilliance. They were in love, and at that moment, they were only a man and a maid. The guests themselves were metamorphosed. No longer were they kings, duchesses, generals, ladies-in-waiting- the human touch had made them oblivious of their rank, and in the presence of the lovers, they had become simple men and women. The lights streamed down on radiant faces, on shoulders that would have been as lovely without the glitter of necklaces, eyes that would have sparkled as brilliantly without the answering flash of coronets...
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Post  Elena on Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:18 pm

What a soul-stirring account! sunny

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Post  May on Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:18 pm


A letter from Queen Elisabeth appealing to American women for help for her people during the Great War. From Hugh Gibson's Diplomatic Diary.
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 Books10
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Post  May on Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:53 pm

An article from the Exiled Belgian Royalist, explaining how Albert commanded his armed forces in fact, not just in name...even though he was not the militaristic type, at all.

http://belgieroyalist.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-king-decides-strategy.html

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Post  May on Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:38 pm

Here is an article about Albert's visit as a young prince to the United States:
http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/Albert_King_of_the_Belgians_before_WW1_pdf
Full text of Across America with the King of the Belgians, a book by Pierre Goemaere, a journalist who accompanied the King and Queen on their tour of the United States after World War I:
http://archive.org/details/acrossamericawit027221mbp
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Post  Elena on Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:41 pm

Thank you, I appreciate these posts so much! I think I am almost in love with King Albert! I love you Wink

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Post  May on Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:11 pm

I'm so glad!! sunny flower

This is an old post I wrote in response to those who view all monarchs as privileged bloodsuckers:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/cette-croix.html
Not long before ascending the throne, Albert of Belgium wrote to his sister, Princess Josephine: "I hope that this Cross, a so-called 'crowned' state in life (cette croix qui est une situation dite 'couronnée,' ) does not fall too soon upon my shoulders." He did not view his kingship as a pleasure, but rather as a duty.

All too often, monarchs are portrayed as a useless burden on their country, living in luxury at the people's expense. It is forgotten that a sovereign's position entails a great deal of sacrifice. Who would want to devote his or her whole life to complex and difficult questions of public policy, war, and peace? To be surrounded by intriguing courtiers and politicians?

These difficulties are compounded in the case of a country like that which Albert inherited in 1909. Belgium was small, weak, surrounded by predatory neighbors, divided by language, ethnicity, class, and religion. Young Prince Albert anticipated all the difficulties of his future position. His daughter, Marie-José, quotes, in her memoirs, a letter he wrote his wife, Elisabeth, shortly before ascending the throne. In the letter, he implores her aid and support (which she gave him wholeheartedly) in fulfilling the duties of kingship, as he cannot trust anyone else.

Despite his realistic understanding of the difficulties he would face as King, Albert undertook the role courageously. In the years and months before his accession, he strenuously and thoughtfully strove to prepare himself for rulership. Some excerpts from his letters to Elisabeth illustrate his state of mind:

"Je ne puis le dissimuler, le moment est venu de travailler jusqu'à crever pour acquérir, non pas une capacité, ce qui est impossible, mais un savoir suffisant pour exclure du moins le ridicule de la fonction que la fatalité doit m'infliger plus tard.

Je crois, j'espère que je saurai me mettre au travail, j'entends par là, n'avoir plus d'autre objectif que ce qui se rapporte au perfectionnement de soi-même. Si pourtant j'arrivais malgré tout à me rendre utile à mon pays, ce serait la réalisation d'une bien haute ambition et la recompense de bien de peines..."

"I cannot deny it, the time has come to work to exhaustion, in order to acquire, not an ability, which is impossible, but a knowledge sufficient to exclude, at least, ridicule from the function which destiny will inflict on me in the future.

I believe, I hope that I will be able to put myself to work, I mean by that, no longer to have any other objective than that which relates to self-improvement. But if I could succeed, despite everything, in rendering myself useful to my country, it would be the fulfillment of quite a high ambition, and the recompense of many pains... "

Albert saw Elisabeth's collaboration as essential in carrying out his task:

"Tu as tout pour remplir le rôle de reine: coeur, intelligence, tact, et grâce. Fais-le! C'est vraiment du fond du coeur un appel que je t'adresse au nom de l'amour si sincère qui nous unit et qui pourrait trouver des voies nouvelles si fécondes."

"You have everything necessary to fulfill the role of a Queen: heart, intelligence, tact, and grace. Do it! It is, truly, an appeal from the depths of my heart, that which I address to you, in the name of the sincere love which unites us and which could find such fruitful new avenues."

Despite the sacrifice it involved, Albert undertook his role with idealism and hope.

"Embellie par le travail et l'effort, je crois que la vie devient plus belle. C'est le combat de tous les jours: on poursuit un idéal, on va vers un but, on finit, je crois, par savoir ce que l'on veut, et j'imagine même qu'on ferme une fois les yeux ayant mérité la tranquillité et le repos de la conscience."

"Embellished by work and effort, I believe that life becomes more beautiful. It is the battle of every day; one pursues an ideal, one goes toward a goal, in the end, I believe, one comes to know what one is seeking, and, I even imagine, one closes one's eyes having earned tranquillity and peace of conscience."

A very serious King.
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Post  May on Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:59 pm

Some information on the little town and abbey of Marche-les-Dames, where the King died:
Marche-les-Dames is best known for being the site of the tragic death of King Albert I. Yet it has a fascinating older history. According to Bradshaw' s Illustrated hand-book for Belgium and the Rhine (1897):
The village owes the first part of its name to its situation on the confines of the ancient district of Namur (Marche, frontier limit), and the latter part refers to the foundation of the Abbey, which still attracts a number of visitors to Marche-les-Dames. An affecting tradition connects its origins with the first crusade. When in the reign of Albert III, the crusaders set off for the Holy Land, such of their wives as were unable to follow them assembled in the rustic and lonely valley...they raised a modest chapel, in which, praying for the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre, they waited for the return of their husbands. But out of the many warriors who had been to seek for glory on the burning plains of Palestine, very few, indeed, regained the green hills of their native land. When the crusaders who had escaped death returned to the banks of the Meuse, desolation reigned in the Valley of Notre Dame du Vivier, as it was then called. Most of those wives learned they were widows, and resolved to end their days in the retreat which they had chosen, and young girls, made fatherless, joined them. An abbey was founded there, which, in three centuries afterward, adopted the rule of St. Bernard.
http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/06/marche-les-dames.html
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 800px-10
Photo courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont.
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Post  May on Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:40 pm

The strange story of the disappearance of King Albert's death certificate:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/09/stolen-royal-documents.html
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Post  May on Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:03 pm

King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 4147301969_ab4037e010
Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Tiara by xudros, on Flickr
The famous Cartier tiara of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.
http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/03/tiara-of-queen-elisabeth.html
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 256px-ElisabethofBelgium
ElisabethofBelgium [Public domain], by Photo from the Swedish book Kronprinsessan Astrid (Stockholm, 1926)., from Wikimedia Commons
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King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 Empty Wedding Anniversary!

Post  May on Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:27 pm

Today is the anniversary of the marriage of Albert and Elisabeth. flower
King Albert I (1875-1934) and Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965) - Page 2 436px-10
The wedding was magnificent, celebrated in Munich amidst wild popular rejoicing. In her memoirs, the royal couple's daughter, Marie-José, records the words Msgr. von Klein addressed to her parents before imparting the nuptial benediction. "Prince, you shall one day wear the crown, and may your fame then resound afar, for your devoted, clement love, for your paternal goodness towards your subjects." Turning to Elisabeth, he added: "And you...may you be celebrated as the benefactress of the poor, the refuge of the afflicted and a radiant image of Christian charity."
It is also the Feast of the Guardian Angels, which seems suitable. sunny
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Post  princess garnet on Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:17 pm

Thought this would be of interest to forum readers--an account of the royal family sailing aboard the USS George Washington for their 1919 state visit to the US:
http://historyandotherthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-belgian-royal-family-on-board.html#.Uv0nXv1y_1o
From "History & Other Thoughts" blog.

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Post  May on Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:35 pm

Delightful! Thank you, Princess! sunny 
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