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King Leopold III (1901-1983), Queen Astrid (1905-1935) and Princess Lilian (1916-2002)

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Post  May on Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:33 pm

First topic message reminder :

The misfortunes of Leopold III, who was falsely accused of collaborating with the Nazis and forced to abdicate in 1951:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/01/tragedy-of-leopold-iii.html

The conversion of his first wife, born Princess of Sweden and raised as a Lutheran, to Catholicism:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/07/conversion-of-queen-astrid.html

His much-maligned second wife, born Lilian Baels:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/01/princess-lilian-loved-and-loving.html
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Post  Elena on Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:07 am

That is uncanny.

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King Leopold III (1901-1983), Queen Astrid (1905-1935) and Princess Lilian (1916-2002) - Page 3 Empty King Leopold III and family in captivity

Post  May on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:25 pm

I have started a new series on the imprisonment of King Leopold III and his family in Germany and Austria from 1944-1945. It was very frightening!

Here is the first installment of the series, dealing with the King's deportation around the time of the Normandy landings.

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2011/12/royal-family-in-captivity.html
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Post  Elena on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:46 pm

Thank you for the link! Can't wait to read it!!

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Post  May on Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:56 pm

The next installment of the series on the royal family's imprisonment:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2012/01/royal-family-in-captivity-part-ii.html
While King Leopold III, brave but forlorn, suffered through his first miserable night at Hirchstein, his wife, Princess Lilian, struggled valiantly at Laeken to protect his family. On the morning of June 7, 1944, immediately following the King's departure, she had been told by Captain Büntinck, an aide of Colonel Kiewitz, that she, too, would be deported to Germany, along with her three step-children and her little son. This second sadistic order came at a particularly cruel moment. Alexandre was still only a toddler, Baudouin was recovering from scarlet fever and Albert suffering from mumps. Joséphine-Charlotte, for her part, was only sixteen. Outraged, Lilian vehemently protested and tried her utmost to frustrate the plan, mobilizing all her connections and managing to gain a reprieve of forty-eight hours. Meanwhile, her mother-in-law, Queen Elisabeth, transmitted a message to Büntinck to convey to Berlin by telephone. Her words were chosen carefully to exploit the official pretext for deporting the Royal Family, a supposed concern for their safety: "Before leaving, the King, my son, unable to do so himself as a result of his sudden departure, asked me to transmit to the government of the Reich the following message: 'It would politically intolerable and have the worst possible effect on the Belgian people to cause the King to depart with all his family and to place them in safety, while the people are suffering and the other prisoners of war are separated from their families.' He did this in complete accord with the Princess, my daughter-in-law. A decision is urgently required."

Not surprisingly, the Queen's effort failed. During the night of June 8-9, with the aid of a chauffeur and two gardeners, the Princess set to work concealing the cars belonging to the Royal Court. She was determined to obstruct the journey as long as possible. By dawn, all but one of the vehicles had been hidden in one of the galleries of the castle. Finding the garages empty, the Gestapo were frustrated and furious, but eventually managed to gather enough cars to form a convoy. Meanwhile, Cardinal van Roey, the President and the General Procurator of the Court of Cassation had been summoned to Laeken to witness the violence done to the Royal Family and the official protest of the Princess. The King's consort gave Captain Büntinck the following message: "On June 7, 1944, learning that the order had been given for the transfer of his family to Germany, the King immediately demanded that they be allowed to continue to reside in Belgium. I share the King's views entirely, and I have advised you of it. On June 8, I associated myself with the demand made by the Queen of the German authorities to obtain the withdrawal of this decision. This morning, at three o'clock, you informed me that the order for departure was being upheld, and that the King's family had to leave the castle of Laeken at two o'clock in the afternoon. I protest the measure of which the princes and myself are the object; we will depart, therefore, only because we are constrained to do so." Prince Baudouin, the young heir to the throne, left a touching note for a friend: "I am writing you a short letter before leaving for captivity in Germany. It is terrible. But events require it. I thank you for your kind letter. See you soon, I hope."

That afternoon, the Royal Family would indeed begin their tedious and traumatic journey, but not before long discussions regarding the composition of the Princess' suite had further delayed departure. Two of the children's nannies, Mme. Schepers and Mlle. Henrard, offered to share their mistress' captivity, and were allowed to accompany her. The governor of the heir to the throne, the Vicomte du Parc, and one of the attachés of the King's cabinet, M. Weemaes, were also authorized to join the forlorn little party. (Initially, a physician, Dr. Rahier, was permitted to come, but was later ominously ordered to return to Belgium before reaching the Royal Family's place of detention). Towards evening, Princess Lilian and her fellow hostages finally had to bid a heartrending adieu to a tearful assembly of the rest of the royal staff. Following in the the footsteps of their husband, father and Sovereign, but cruelly kept in ignorance of his fate or their own destination, the anxious prisoners finally reached Hirchstein on June 11, towards nightfall. To their relief, they found the King alive. Lilian, however, was particularly exhausted after many frightening adventures. In her hotel room in Weimar, with Joséphine-Charlotte's help, for instance, she had been obliged to secretly burn her husband's "Political Testament", to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. En route, she had also been forced to protest vehemently for hours to prevent the S.S. from separating Princes Baudouin and Albert from the rest of the family. Worse, however, was yet to come.
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Post  May on Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:40 pm

Part III, dealing with the royal family's life at Hirschstein:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2012/01/royal-family-in-captivity-part-iii.html

As we recently celebrated Epiphany, perhaps it is appropriate to recall how the royal hostages spent their first Christmas in captivity at the dreary fortress of Hirschstein. Shortly before Christmas, Hitler had sent a message to his prisoners, grandiosely inquiring if they had any wishes he might grant. Wary of being placed in their enemy's debt, King Leopold and his family had only one request: they would be glad to have a priest to celebrate midnight Mass. A man in clerical garb promptly arrived, claiming to be a priest from the medieval monastery of Klosterneuberg, founded, ironically enough, by St. Leopold of Babenburg, Margrave of Austria. Posing as sympathetic and solicitous, the man offered to hear the prisoners' confessions. The quick-witted Princess Lilian, who was familiar with Klosterneuberg, had the good sense to cross-question him first, to determine whether he were an impostor. Finding that he was unable even to give a correct reply concerning the location of his supposed monastery, she quietly told her husband that the man was certainly not from Klosterneuberg, and that she doubted whether he were a priest at all. As described in Un couple dans la tempête, however, King Leopold indulged his ironic sense of humor by agreeing to let the man hear his confession and by submitting to a series of highly indiscreet questions under the guise of fatherly pastoral care. As the impostor prepared to deliver absolution, however, his royal penitent stopped him and sent him away, unmasked. Together with his family and small band of faithful followers, all King Leopold could do to commemorate Our Savior's birth was to sing Minuit Chrétien and Stille Nacht, to piano accompaniment. Princess Lilian gave the royal children watercolors she had painted using a box of colors smuggled into her luggage on the journey from Brussels. She had fashioned the picture-frames out of branches gathered in the small garden of Hirschstein.

As always, the King was determined that his household should display dignity and courage in adversity and resist the temptation to despair. Christmas was not the first time that they had bravely improvised a humble, poignant celebration. On July 21, 1944, just over a month after their deportation, they had fervently celebrated their national holiday, albeit with meagre means. They had managed to construct a Belgian flag, using strips of red, yellow and black fabric, stitched together with vegetable fibers. The flag was draped over the poorly tuned piano, and M. Weemaes was able to play a few measures of the Belgian national anthem, the Brabançonne, bringing tears to the eyes of his fellow sufferers. Throughout the long months at Hirschstein, the King and his officers wore their uniforms at table and the children's lessons and games continued. Princess Lilian even composed and directed a play, Pygmalion, giving roles to the different members of the family. Whenever possible, the children exercised outside, in the small garden. They suffered severely from malnutrition. Albert eventually developed hunger edema; little Alexandre, rickets. In January, 1945, while the princes were helping to build a sled, Albert also seriously injured his thigh. Mishandled by an S.S. officer, the wound became dangerously infected and began to putrefy. At Lilian's insistence, the family's gaoler, the S.S. Colonel Lürker, perhaps afraid of being blamed for the death of a royal hostage, summoned a distinguished physician from Dresden, Professor Lang, to treat the prince. The man was obliged to disinfect and bandage the gangrenous wound in silence, as he had been forbidden to speak with the prisoners. Thankfully, Albert's leg was saved. A Nazi physician, Dr. Ghebart, also arrived to examine the boy, sadistically seizing the opportunity to shock Leopold and Lilian with descriptions of the experiments he had secretly performed upon political prisoners in concentration camps. The King's blood froze with horror. Leopold and Lilian also had the frightening feeling that their tormentor did not expect them to live to repeat the revelations. Further traumas would follow in February, with the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden. The inferno was clearly visible from the windows of Hirchstein, so dazzling that night and day were equally bright. On Ash Wednesday, the capital of Saxony lay in ashes. The icy Elbe carried countless charred and mangled corpses past the royal family's horrified eyes. Lilian especially remembered seeing the bodies of two women, floating hand in hand, surely mother and daughter.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of February, in an ominous new development, the King had been threatened with separation from his entourage. Due to the advance of the Soviet army, he had been told, the royal family would be transported to a new place of detention in southern Germany. His suite would be moved to yet another location. Leopold immediately protested this scheme, refusing to be divided from any of his companions. To Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the Gestapo, he sent the following telegram: "It has been communicated to me that an order of displacement could soon be given to me and that the persons who have voluntarily accompanied us in captivity would be directed to a different destination. I express the formal desire that these persons, for whose fate I am responsible, may continue to share my captivity and that they may not be suddenly isolated in this manner. In addition, there are, among these persons, three officers, for whom I demand a treatment compatible with their rank". Departure would be delayed until March, and the royal party would be allowed to travel together to their next prison, the villa of Strobl, Austria, opening a new chapter of their weary captivity.
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Post  Elena on Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:15 pm

WHAT an amazing story! I never had any idea about any of this!! Thank you, M.! sunny

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Post  May on Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:17 pm

A gorgeous carved French silver platter from 1850, auctioned off at Sotheby's as part of Lilian's estate after her death.

http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult--odiot-charles-nicolas-1789-186-philippe-count-of-flanders-a-l-1778280.htm

By clicking around on the site, you can also see many other of Lilian's splendid treasures.
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Post  Mata Hari on Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:28 pm

Thank you! What exquisite taste!

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Post  May on Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:55 pm

I just finished the series on the Nazi captivity of Leopold III and his family:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2012/03/royal-family-in-captivity-part-iv.html

After their imprisonment had dragged on for nine months, Elisabeth's son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren finally left the frightening fortress of Hirschstein at the beginning of March, 1945. Yet it was only to begin a new, sinister chapter in their captivity. En route to Strobl, Austria, the royal family reached Munich just in time for a terrible bombardment. While the population fled to shelters, the prisoners were forbidden from following suit. Colonel Lürker, the King's S.S. gaoler, even locked the royal family in a car under a bridge, before absconding with the rest of the German guards. Terrified by the inferno, the children burst into tears. After the danger had passed, leaving Munich in ruins, a furious Leopold would confront Lürker upon his return.

By a strange twist of fate, the convoy also spent time at the nearby Braunhaus, a property of Hitler, where some prominent Nazis had been invited to a banquet. The bombardment of Munich, however, had prevented their arrival. The repast fell instead to the King's gaolers. Meanwhile, the royal prisoners seized the opportunity to bathe comfortably for the first time in months. They also enjoyed a few leftovers from the banquet. After so much hunger, butter seemed an untold luxury and delight. As a memento of this bizarre evening, Princess Lilian mischievously managed to purloin a napkin marked A.H. Decades later, she humorously confided to the journalists Marcel Jullian and Claude Désiré that this was the only theft of her life...

The morning after this brief respite from misery, the journey to Strobl resumed its weary pace, traveling towards Salzburg, amidst bitterly cold weather. The royal family spent hours shivering in a tunnel during another bombardment. It was nearly midnight by the time the convoy finally reached the small village of Strobl, in the heart of the Salzkammergut. A wooden chalet, isolated from the rest of the local population, and surrounded with barbed wire fences, awaited the hostages. As at Hirschstein, they would live at close quarters, under cruel and humiliating conditions. Their diet remained poor, although it was fortunately supplemented by the dandelions growing plentifully in the garden. The prisoners' treatment, moreover, became harsher as the months passed, as their routine walks in the garden, initially allowed three times a week, were eventually forbidden.

As described by Roger Keyes in Échec au Roi, the Vicomte du Parc, governor of Prince Baudouin, when asked years later about the period at Strobl, could find no words to describe the horror of these final months in captivity. As the Allied armies approached Strobl, the prisoners feared that they would be massacred by their gaolers, as a desperate, fanatical act of vengeance. The tragic fate of the Romanovs haunted the Saxe-Coburgs... Indeed, at the beginning of May, shortly before their liberation by American troops under the command of General Alexander Patch, an S.S. officer gave Princess Lilian a box of blue pills, claiming that they were vitamin supplements, and advising her to distribute them to the whole family. Duly suspicious, she did not do so. The pills were later tested by the Americans and found to contain cyanide. How often had Providence saved King Leopold and his loved ones!
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Post  Elena on Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:45 pm

Extraordinary! I can't wait to read it all! Very Happy

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Post  princess garnet on Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:11 pm

Thanks for posting these, Matterhorn!

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Post  May on Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:55 pm

You're welcome, Princess Garnet! sunny

Here are some accounts by Belgian soldiers of visiting King Leopold after his liberation from Nazi captivity in Austria:

http://www.ordi-web.eu/16emebataillonfusiliers/docs/pdf/leopold_III.pdf

I translated part of the testimony of a Franciscan army chaplain, who was very devoted to the King and to Belgium:

...The sentinels present arms and the Grand Marshal immediately receives us. "His Majesty is expecting you", he tells us, and, opening the door of the salon, he prepares to present us to the King. I advance, but I do not have the time to formulate a single word before the King shakes my hand and tells me of his "great joy at seeing and receiving his first soldiers".

At his request, I present my comrades to him. He converses for a few moments with each of us, asks us for details about our towns, about the destruction caused by the flying bombs, about the von Rundstedt offensive in the Ardennes. Then, he offers us a glass of wine, some cigarettes. Our conversation continues... "Tell me about yourselves, about the army. How many battalions and volunteers are there? When and how were you mobilized? Since when have you been in Germany? Are you happy? Speak to me, for I know nothing and I am so happy to see my soldiers again!" We answer the King and we are astonished to be speaking with him almost like brothers, as we did, a few weeks earlier, with our brave prisoners discovered at Buchenwald.

When the King says to us: "Do you like photos? We could take a few," I cannot contain my joy. "Sire, you overwhelm us, we would never have dared to formulate this desire." But the King smiles and, taking us by the arm, invites us onto the terrace overlooking the lake. It is there that, speaking of the time he spent before his liberation, he relates to me the painful hours he lived through at Strobl. I understood from the King's words that if it had not been for the advance of the Allies, which was a surprise for the S.S. committed to his guard, the villa of Strobl would have been the witness of the murder of our great King by the S.S. This, too, it is important that the Belgians should know. But our photographer is ready. The King places himself in the midst of us and beckons to us to come closer to him. He himself asks that other photos be taken, because he cherishes this memory. He even asks the Grand Marshal of the Court to take a photograph, "so that all six of us can be with him." With the kindest smile, he also permits a few shots to be taken during the conversation.

The time passes, however, and, if we had come to see the King to satisfy a need of our hearts, we did not want to leave him without broaching the subject of his return. In all simplicity, we say to him: "Sire, the country awaits you. Do not believe the politicians who say that the majority of Belgians are distanced from Your Majesty. Return, Sire, and the present tension will be swiftly resolved."

The King reflects, then, calmly, he tells us: "It is not only in our country. It is in all the countries that one can see political tensions, but I have confidence in the good sense of my people."

Yes, we feel that the King's heart beats in unison with that of his people. Yes, we have before us the Sovereign who gave himself entirely to Belgium, the chief who has the consciousness of having done all his duty and who wishes to accomplish it to the end.

His Majesty insists that we remember him to our whole battalion and bring them his good wishes. He repeats how happy he is to have received us. He shakes our hands one last time...
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Post  May on Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:34 pm

BelgieRoyalist gives his thoughts on Leopold III as part of a series on the Belgian monarchs:

http://belgieroyalist.blogspot.com/2012/03/our-great-kings-part-iv-leopold-iii.html
King Leopold III may be the most unjustly criticized of all our kings and yet there was no one who did more to demonstrate his selfless devotion to his people than King Leopold III. He is most often attacked because of his actions during World War II when the facts show that his every action was influenced by his love for his country and dedication to his people. King Leopold III was a veteran of the First World War when he fought for his country while still in his teens, he had toured the country and the Belgian Congo to see the issues his people faced so he could find ways to correct them, he was devoted to unifying his people and to hopefully keep Belgium out of World War II. That was not possible though since the Germans invaded anyway and King Leopold III did his duty and took command of the army to fight for Belgian independence. He led to the troops in a desperate struggle across the country for eighteen days with little support from the other powers who really let the Belgians sacrifice themselves to buy time for their own armies to retreat. Finally, cut off, outnumbered and outmatched, King Leopold III did the responsible thing and surrendered his army so they would not be needlessly slaughtered. It is disgusting that other Allied leaders blamed him for not fighting hard enough when it was his struggle that gave them the time to save their own armies.

It is also criticized today that Leopold III remained with his troops and became a prisoner, staying in Belgium, rather than fleeing to London to join the Belgian government-in-exile which directed the Free Belgian résistance. This is a charge ridiculous to make because, as a soldier, he would not abandon his brave men to save himself. King Christian X of Denmark did not leave his country and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands did not want to either but had to be, basically, tricked into leaving by her own attendants. Leopold III knew it was his duty to stay in Belgium to endure the occupation with his people and not abandon them so he could try to shield them from the worst excesses of the Nazi conquerors. The politicians invented the lie that this somehow made Leopold III a collaborator because they had fought with him from the very beginning because the King was always a problem for them because he put the interests of Belgium as a whole first whereas the politicians always put themselves or their narrow interest group before the national good. During the occupation the fact is that Leopold III refused to collaborate with the Germans, refused to carry out their wishes and remained under house arrest as a prisoner of war. His only meeting with Hitler was an effort by King Leopold III to preserve the unity and independence of Belgium which the actual Nazi collaborators wanted to divide and subordinate to the Netherlands or Germany.

The Nazis forced the King and his family out of the country and put them in prison until they were liberated by American forces at the end of the war. However, by that time, the government-in-exile had returned and they were still being spiteful and refused to let the King return so he had to go to Switzerland. The people had always loved the King more than his ministers but anti-monarchy agitation was also being instigated by Marxist revolutionaries and those who wanted to divide and destroy the country. Because of the unrest, the issue was put to a referendum, asking if the King should come back or not. The result was a clear majority in favor of Leopold III returning but the enemies of the monarchy refused to accept the result and threatened violence, even civil war, if they did not get their way. Although it was very painful, King Leopold III decided he could not continue as king if it would risk the lives of his people so even though he won the vote he abdicated his throne to spare his country further suffering, leaving it to his son Baudouin to heal the wounds of Belgium. Leopold III was clearly a devoted patriot who always put his country and his people first. He was really a great king.
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Post  May on Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:47 am

I've been noticing something bizarre on my blog; somebody keeps clicking the 'disagree' reaction on my posts on Queen Astrid...apparently even 'disagreeing' with this portrait of her with a bouquet of roses:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2012/03/queen-with-roses.html

Really odd!! Usually Astrid is one of the most popular and least controversial Belgian royals.
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Post  Elena on Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:33 am

It's just a troll. We love your posts!!

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Post  May on Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:50 pm

Thank you!!

Here is my review of one of my favorite books on Queen Astrid, the memoirs of her childhood friend:

In 1985, a Swedish historical novelist, Countess Anna Sparre, published her recollections of her friendship with Queen Astrid of the Belgians, niece of King Gustav V of Sweden. The book, Vännen min, has since been translated into French as La reine Astrid: mon amie à moi (1995) and as Astrid mon amie (2005). Under Anna's pen, Astrid's subtle personality comes to life. Tender, sensitive and loving, although not without her strict side, she was a loyal and devoted wife, mother and queen. Anna sensitively portrays Astrid's blossoming, through love, from a painfully shy, fearful, rather melancholic child into a radiant, dignified young woman, courageously assuming the role of royal consort under tragic circumstances. While carefully avoiding betraying confidences, Anna offers insight into her friend's spiritual depth and development, through her discussion of Astrid's conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism. In a particularly haunting passage, Anna also mentions Astrid's mysterious premonitions of her death, shortly before her fatal car accident. However, she does not discuss the rumor that Astrid was expecting her fourth child at the time. Anna provides an affectionate portrayal of Astrid's beloved husband, King Leopold III, and father-in-law and dear friend, King Albert I. Throughout her life, the Countess remained close to Astrid's son, King Baudouin, who referred to Anna as an honorary aunt. By contrast, Anna found Astrid's mother-in-law, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, to be aloof and distant. This is surprising, since so many other personal accounts, such as the memoirs of Russian sculptress Catherine Barjansky, describe Elisabeth as natural, spontaneous, and extremely approachable. Perhaps Anna and Elisabeth simply had incompatible personalities? In any case, the rather derisive tone Anna adopts in Elisabeth's regard is one of the few aspects of the book I disliked. Otherwise, Vännen min is a noble, beautiful tribute to faithful friendship.

I think you would love this book, Elena. It reads like a novel.
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Post  Elena on Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:29 pm

I would love to read it!!

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Post  May on Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:37 pm

I just got hold of a copy of The Belgian Campaign and the Surrender of the Belgian Army: May 10-28, 1940, published by the Belgian American Educational Foundation in 1941. There are some wonderful recollections of Leopold III by a series of American ambassadors to Belgium. Here is one by William Phillips:

While my service as Ambassador in Brussels was during the reign of King Albert, I had the privilege of coming into frequent contact with the then Prince Leopold, and it was during those years that I grew to appreciate his sterling qualities.

The happy associations which I had with the Royal Family are very precious memories, for there one found a combination of simplicity and dignity and of unsparing effort to help every cause which had for its purpose the welfare of the people.
The Belgian Crown stood for all that is highest and noblest among nations and mankind, and King Albert had become one of the outstanding figures of the world.

It was through the period of the tragedies of the World War and in such a developing atmosphere that Leopold, the son, passed the formative years of his boyhood.

He must have been conscious of the powerful bond between sovereign and people which had grown through those years of tragedy and it is not surprising to find in him many of the same noble qualities of his parents - the high sense of responsibility, the utter devotion to duy, the spirit of willing self-sacrifice and love for his people- the same sterling qualities which make him also a symbol, to his people and to all the world, of Belgian independence.

Governed always by the highest principles, King Leopold may be counted upon to do everything in his power and judgment for the welfare and future happiness of his beloved people, for he is a true Belgian patriot, and the son of a great King.
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Post  Julygirl on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:58 am

I am really enjoying this series! Thank you SO much!!!! Very Happy
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Post  May on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:32 pm

Thank you, Julygirl!! sunny
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Post  May on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:41 pm

This is my post about the death of Princess Lilian, in 2002. Her serenity and courage in her last days is a good indicator of a clear conscience, I think.

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2010/06/death-of-princess.html

On June 7, 2002, Princess Lilian of Belgium, born Mary Lilian Baels, widow of King Leopold III, died peacefully, after a long illness, at her home at Argenteuil, near Waterloo. One of her doctors, and close collaborators in the Princess Lilian Cardiological Foundation, Charles van Ypersele de Strihou, later testified:

During her long illness, the Princess never complained. Although aware of her prognosis, She nevertheless fought step by step with a courage that commanded the admiration of physicians and nurses. She kept her sense of humour, confronted the physicians with the limits of their art and obtained the best of their talents. She remained attached to life despite the hardship of illness and some moments of discouragement. A few weeks before her death, She confided gratefully that She had enjoyed her long, full life. (Charles van Ypersele de Strihou, "Princess Lilian: some personal recollections," 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. 20, quoted by Michel Verwilghen in Le Mythe d'Argenteuil: demeure d'un couple royal, 2006, p. 39)

Verwilghen adds:

She who, during her life, had morally suffered so from the innumerable calumnies of which she was the victim, did not know the physical pains of the end of life. Some of her intimates said that Providence spared her a long and painful agony. As if she were falling asleep, she slipped, little by little, into unconsciousness, a few moments after the final auscultation. She ceased to breathe less than an hour later. Death came shortly before 1 pm, while Princess Lilian was surrounded only by her silent doctors and supported by her maid, whose sobs, restrained with difficulty, expressed her profound emotion.

The chatelaine of Argenteuil, who royally personified that marvelous corner of Belgium, transfigured by her talent, had left it, after living there for more than 41 years. Her mortal remains would rest there for eight days yet, before passing, for the last time, through the gates of the royal dwelling over which, at her suggestion, had been forged two "L's", interlaced and surmounted with a crown, monograms of Leopold and Lilian, evocative of their common destiny. (p. 40, translated from the French original)
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Post  May on Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:50 pm

Here is an article about Queen Astrid, Princess Grace of Monaco and Diana, Princess of Wales. Although I am not too keen on comparisons of Astrid with Diana, I still find the article interesting, especially as it points out how Grace and Diana are always remembered but Astrid has often been forgotten (at least, outside Belgium).

http://lockkeeper.com/features/princesses/in_threes.html

Here is my own article comparing and contrasting Astrid and Diana:

http://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2009/06/queen-astrid-diana-princess-of-wales.html
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Post  May on Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:30 pm

Princess Esmeralda has a new book coming out on her mother, beautiful Princess Lilian, to mark the tenth anniversary of Lilian's passing this year. It looks lovely:

http://www.rtbf.be/video/v_lilian-une-princesse-entre-ombre-et-lumiere?id=1732597

I would love to interview Princess Esmeralda regarding her parents for The Cross of Laeken. I am going to see if it is possible.
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Post  Elena on Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:44 pm

If anyone could get an interview it would be you!

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