Saturday, July 31, 2010

R.I.P. Roi Baudouin

Today in 1993 the late King Baudouin died, a very sad occasion for all the people of Belgium. The King had many misfortunes, his reign saw many setbacks for the country, division of the country, loss of the empire, growing internationalism, but he was a great man. To stop these things was not in his character (which I mean he would not lead a royal coup or something) but he made his positions known very well and warned at every step when bad decisions were being made by his government. He is still missed by many people.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The "Politics" Controversy of Leopold III

In 1944, after a failed covert effort to contact King Leopold III (who was being kept a virtual prisoner by the Germans) by the government-in-exile in London the King wrote his "Political Testament" which has since caused some controversy. Why did this happen? Because people since have ruled it controversial and for no other reason. It is noteworthy since so many accuse King Leopold of collaboration that he wrote the document because of the fear that the Germans would remove him from Belgium when the Allies invaded -which was true and later happened as he predicted.

Some who cannot think of criticisms for the content of the Testament criticize the "style" of it, claiming the King "sounding" authoritarian and to be "talking down" to the readers. This should be instantly dismissed unless they are claiming to have psychic powers to read the mind and attitude of the King at the time. What is criticized of the content is that he used the term "occupation" to refer to the future Allied invasion rather than the term "liberation". That sounds bad (we are told) unless one considers that it was true! This is simply a matter of correct definition. Any time a country has military forces of another country or countries on their soil it is an "occupation". Since the time of independence Belgium had a policy of neutrality and it did not matter what country carried out the occupation -it would still be an occupation even if it would work out as liberation. That is a silly argument to pick on.

Also there was the King's writing of not recognizing the agreements, actions and policies enacted by the government-in-exile during the war. Again, here we have something being made complicated and controversial that is actually very simple. The King had trouble before the war with the politicians who wanted to obstruct him so there was probably some strained feelings there. However, the government of the country was, is and always has consisted of the King and his ministers. The government-in-exile did not recognize any decisions taken by the King during the war because without his ministers he could not be the sole voice of government on his own. However, by that same logic they show the King as correct since any policies they enacted without his approval would also not be valid -by their own standards!
They also complained that the King called for the exoneration of the ministers involved in the government crisis of 1940. Once again, this should not be controversial, this is part of his duty as King which is to be the source of unity for the country and if there is to be reconciliation of all the people after the war there would have to be a willingness to put the past behind them on the part of the government and move toward the future. This was all even more absurd considering the actions, not only of the King, but of the whole Belgian government and military in regard to the Allies during and after the war. For example, the Force Publique in the Congo played a very important part in the Allied invasion of Italian East Africa in cooperation with the British and after the war there was close cooperation with the United States and other powers in the establishment of NATO. King Leopold III was writing of the legal situation and not expressing any judgment on the Allied countries. He was being held like a prisoner by the Germans and expecting to be essentially kidnapped by them when he wrote the Testament so it is absurd to think that he was being anti-Allies or pro-German in writing this document.
It should also be remembered that this was an invented controversy. The government-in-exile never published the testament, they ignored it (partly because they did not want to offend radical leftist elements that were cooperating with the exile government) and so the document really had no practical use. This was brought out and exposed later simply so that those putting it out could twist the words and the spirit in which it was written to smear the reputation of King Leopold III. However, the fog of political spin should be put aside and look at the clear, basic facts of what was actually written and when that is done anyone can see that there was nothing outrageous or controversial in the Political Testament of S.M. Leopold III.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Princesse Lilian de Réthy

Second wife of King Leopold III, one of the more glamorous members of the Belgian Royal Family, just sadly never able to be Queen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview with Half-Belgian Princess of Italy

S.A. Princesse Marie Gabriella of the House of Savoia was interviewed on her vacation on the island of Mallorca by the local magazine Diario de Mallorca. She does not seem to give much hope for the monarchie in Spain. The Princesse is the daughter of Italy's last King Umberto II and Queen Marie-Jose of Belgium. She lives mostly in Switzerland and is a historian of Italy.

Q: Do you remember your departure to exile?
A: “Yes, very well. The year was 1946 and we left Italy on board a warship full of cockroaches, but for us, as children, meant the discovery of the world, it was really fun. After a referendum was not clear who gave the victory to. The King would not face the Italians in a civil war and decided to leave.”

Q: What has served you as the daughter of King?
A: “Our family, the Savoy, has over a thousand years of history. Kings reunified Italy in the nineteenth century. My father, during his exile of more than three decades suffered a lot. He left Italy for 46 years. We love your country. But I was very homesick. Maybe that’s why he collected many prints, books, pictures, history … When he died it was divided into four parts. I bought that I belonged to one of my sisters, so now I have about ten thousand prints, both in books and other curious objects. I have a foundation, do exhibitions and conferences. In fact, I love to do a show in Spain with the clothes of my mother, wonders of the fashion of the Court of the 30s.

Q: “It portrays a world that no longer exists …
A: “Yes, everything has changed. The only maintaining these applications is the Queen of England. My mother was the daughter of King Albert I of Belgium and Elisabeth of Bavaria, the niece of Empress Sisi. The women were all fantastic, with many concerns. It was an independent woman opposite to fascism, he saw the disaster, tried to help but not the left. The war years were terrible.

Q: What do you think of the monarchy today?
A: “I think the monarchy will disappear sooner or later. King Juan Carlos has done very well, not to mention the Queen Sofia. Being Queen is a very hard job and it takes dedication to service. I have other concerns, perhaps because I have lived in exile. The prince who does serve should not resign his post and make way for those willing to sacrifice for this institution.

Q;What do you think Letizia?
A: I’ve seen her only once and was the day of her wedding. I think she is smart. She has a difficult role. That’s why I never wanted to marry a King. Not worth it.

Princess Maria Gabriella was also asked about the state of the House of Savoy, and why she supports her cousin, the Duke of Aosta, rather than her brother as head of the family.

“My brother did some things wrong in his life and is not a good representative of the dynasty. It should be like in Germany. People respect heads of families, but when he misbehaves, it is a quick throw for the cousin or little brother,” she said.

It would have been nice if the princesse could have held out more optimism for the Spanish monarchie since she was being interviewed by a Spanish publication especially.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Royal Belgium and Imperial Russia

Friendships between Belgium and the Russian Empire began in 1697 and 1698 when the mighty Russian Emperor Tsar Peter the Great toured Europe and visited Belgium. He had hoped for Western Europe to join in a war against the Turks but this could not be done and he took the opportunity to study how things were done in the west and learn all about the latest methods of farming, ship building, fortress design, artistic trends and government organization. While in Belgium he visited Brussels (a major European power center even then) as well as Aix-la-Chapelle and Spa where a monument still stands in his honor.

In 1795 S.A. Prince Leopold of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha was made colonel of the Izmaylovsky Guards Regiment of the Imperial Russian Army. This was mostly an honorific position, but as he grew older he displayed considerable military talent and was later promoted to general-major of the Russian Army. The French Emperor Napoleon was so impressed with Prince Leopold that he offered him a position on his staff but Leopold remained loyal to the Russian army and refused. At the battle of Kulm he led a Russian heavy cavalry division against the French and was later recognized with promotion to lieutenant-general in 1815 at the age of only 25.

This prince later became the first King of the Belgians and in 1853 he welcomed the first Imperial Russian ambassador to his court in Brussels, one Mikhail Irineyevich Khreptovich, when formal diplomatic relations were first established between the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Belgium. There did come to be distant family ties between the Belgian royal house and the Romanovs of Russia and there was trade between the countries but the neutral status of Belgium prevented any formal alliance. However, when the Great War started and German troops invaded Russia the Belgians and Russians found themselves on the same side of the conflict. Although uninvolved in the diplomatic struggle between the great powers that led up to the war, Belgium had not objected to Russia gaining access to the Mediterranean or even taking the city of Constantinople.
When Belgian King Albert Ier heard about the brutal massacre of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, his ally, by the Soviet Communists he was both horrified and outraged as both a devoted family man fond of the Romanovs and as an allied sovereign. Even though the British had entered the war on behalf of Belgium and in some ways were the closest allies of Belgium, King Albert I did not hesitate to voice his extreme displeasure at the British government, openly, for not doing absolutely everything in their power to save the lives of the Russian Imperial Family. When the war was over and Belgium restored the country welcomed in large numbers of White Russian exiles who established one of their largest expatriate communities in the country. These gallant Russian warriors were later very helpful in the combat against rising communist presence in Belgium as they knew first hand how dangerous these people were.
Naturally, relations were cool throughout this later period with Russia under Soviet rule and Belgium a key member of the NATO alliance. However, friendly relations were restored once again after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today Belgium and Russia have a good diplomatic relationship and are important trading partners to each other. It would still be much nicer though for the King of the Belgians to have a Tsar of all Russias to deal with instead of a president. Hopefully that can still change in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"King Leopold II was a visionary hero"

"King Leopold II was a visionary hero"

Former Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel defends the second King of the Belgians from his many modern-day detractors.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

La reine Paola et l'art contemporain belge

Avec l'aide de la Donation Royale et de la Régie des Bâtiments, la Reine entreprend en 1993 un grand et ambitieux programme de rénovation et de mise en valeur du château et des serres de Laeken, du palais royal de Bruxelles et du château de Ciergnon. Tous les observateurs s'accordent pour dire que le résultat est magnifique.

En accord avec le Roi, notre souveraine décide d'intégrer l'art contemporain belge dans le palais royal de Bruxelles, construit au 19ème siècle. L'idée aurait germé dans sa tête suite à la visite du couple royal à l'exposition "La peinture flamande et néerlandaise du 20ème siècle", organisée à Venise en 1997. Paola aurait été encouragée par sa belle-soeur la grande-duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte de Luxembourg, qui avait entamé depuis longtemps une importante collection privée d'oeuvres d'art contemporaines. ...

Founder of a Dynasty

The Cross of Laeken gives a deep look at the founding Belgian monarch King Leopold I.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The United States of Belgium

All the time people make the mistake of thinking that there was no Belgium or Belgians before the years 1830/31 when actually the history goes back all the way to ancient times and even in "modern" Europe the unique identity of Belgium and the Belgian people was still there when the country was ruled by the illustrious House of Hapsburg as the "Austrian Netherlands". You can see this with the creation of the United States of Belgium or the United Belgian States (États-Belgiques-Unis). This was a national organization that existed during the year 1790 when the Belgians made a rebellion against the liberal-secular policies of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. In this way it also shows that Belgium was a much more traditionally religious country than today but also traditionally a country that was opposed to the concentration of power in the hands of a big central government.

The Austrian Emperor Joseph II enacted laws that made the laws, courts and government uniform throughout his empire. He also suppressed religious orders, public displays of religious like processions, saying rosaries, favored government regulated education rather than religious education and the special rights and traditions of individual areas throughout the Hapsburg empire. The Catholics of Belgium quickly made rebellion against these policies led by men like Jan Frans Vonck (who first supported some of the changes and more revolutionary on the French model) and Henri Van der Noot (who wanted foreign support and restoration of traditional rights). Van der Noot went to Breda in the Dutch republic and organized the rebels into an army that then returned to Belgium and defeated the Austrian army at the battle of Turnhout. Ghent was captured later and the Austrian regents in Brussels fled the country and the remaining Austrians fortified themselves in Luxembourg and Antwerp while the rebels took over the rest of the country.

Taking ideas from the Dutch Republic and the recently formed United States of America the rebel leaders formed the United States of Belgium, which included most of the Austrian Netherlands except for Luxembourg. The Bishopric of Liege had also revolted on its own, the rebellion not part of the Brabant revolution, but joined forces with the United Belgian States as well. However, like the situation of today Belgians are very familiar with, the two factions that made the rebellion and made it successful from the start were also in constant deadlock and disagreement with each other. Some supported some of the imperial policies, others wanted everything to go back the way it had been, some wanted to unite with the Dutch republic and others wanted to stay independent and some also wanted their old traditions preserved within the Hapsburg empire. There were finally, few people who really agreed on everything.
Joseph II died that year and his brother Leopold II became Emperor. He did not carry on all the same policies of his brother and sent powerful Austrian forces into Belgium to put down the rebellion and independence movement (divided and constantly on the edge of civil war within itself). Because of the dis-unity of the rebel leaders and their factions, in the end it was not especially difficult for the Austrians to restore their rule over Belgium and break up the independence government such as it was. In October Namur was captured and returned to imperial rule, followed quickly by West Flanders. By the month of December the United States of Belgium was gone and the Austrian Netherlands was restored and would remain until the tumult of the French Revolutionary wars. Like many ideas that sound very good it had ended in disaster but one thing that could not be destroyed was the idea of "Belgium". Contrary to what people think, Belgians had always thought of themselves as a unique people and while they might think the United Belgian States had been a rather poorly planned enterprise they were not going to abandon the idea of having an independent kingdom of their own.

Friday, July 23, 2010

King Leopold I

In honor of the recent national feast, a look at the very first King of the Belgians is appropriate. Leopold was a prince of the ducal family (German royal house of Sachsen) of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, he was uncle of the great British Queen Victoria. Prince Leopold was a star in Europe, a tough soldier, veteran of the Russian Imperial Guard in the Napoleonic wars when his native country was lost to him for a time and his godfather, Hapsburg Kaiser Franz II, was reduced to his Austrian estates only. In 1821 he was offered the throne of the Greeks, recently freed from rule by the Turks. However by 1830 he refuses this offer because, although Greece did appeal to him in a romantic way the country was still too obviously unstable, he did not wish to become Greek Orthodox and the public was not at all united on what government they really wanted.

That same year was the Belgian revolt from the Netherlands and Prince Leopold was again offered a throne. This time it was a country 'down to earth', united in their desire for independence and for a popular monarchy. The much sought-after prince had some conditions, debts would have to be settled, the politics secured, foreign recognition given and he would keep his own Protestant religion but that would not be a problem since he would marry a French Catholic princesse and raise his children as Catholics. He accepted the Belgian throne on June 26 but was not given his oath as King Leopold I of the Belgians until July 21.

There was great celebrations and everywhere King Leopold went he was warmly and cheerfully welcomed by the Belgians because the brave and accomplished prince represented their unity and their independence. For the first time in Belgian history they had a monarch of their own, not having to be shared with Netherlands, France, Austria or Spain. King Leopold I was a great monarch who worked hard to build up and strengthen his new country. When the Dutch again invaded the brave king led his troops into their path himself but, thankfully, French intervention stopped the Dutch attack and secured Belgian independence again without great conflict. Still, some fighting did continue and there was some loss of rights before the Netherlands finally conceded Belgian independence (which the rest of the world already had anyway).

King Leopold had in the past a short and tragic marriage to Princess Charlotte of Britain and recently an unofficial marriage with a beautiful actress Karoline Bauer. Breaking that off in 1832 he married Princess Louise d'Orleans, daughter of the King of the French, a very remarkable woman, by whom he had four children. The first son died young, the second would be King Leopold II, the third Prince Philippe would be father of King Albert I and the fourth was little Princesse Charlotte who would become famous as "Carlota" Empress of Mexico. He opened the first railway in Europe in his Belgium and it was King Leopold who arranged the happy and very productive marriage of Britain's Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Sachsen-Coburg. He tried to bring in more humane laws but was not always successful but because his family was so well connected to the major European monarchies he protected, peacefully and with words, Belgium from troubles with France and Prussia. He died in 1865 and was buried in the crypt at Notre Dame de Laeken.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Belgian Royal Meetings

King Albert I and King Victor Emanuel III of Italy
King Albert I and his family with the King and Queen of Romania

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and King Leopold III

King Leopold III, future Queen Juliana (holding future Queen Beatrix), Prince Bernhard and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands

Duke and Duchess of York (future King George VI and Queen Elisabeth of the U.K.) with Queen Astrid and King Leopold III

King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Queen Elisabeth, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and King Albert I

Prince Henry of Wales (future Duke of Gloucester) with Duke of Brabant (future King Leopold III)

King Leopold III and King Carl Gustav V of Sweden

Royal Families of Belgian King Albert I and Spanish King Alfonso XIII

Belgian Queen Astrid with Crown Princess Martha of Norway

King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth with Prince Felix and Princess Charlotte of Luxembourg

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fête Nationale 2010

The Royal Family celebrate 180 years of Belgian independence!
All the Royal Family members attended the day's events, an interreligious Te Deum in the morning, the military parade but this year authorities warned Queen Fabiola not to be showing any more apples this year, they were not happy about it last time. Police have no sense of humor! If they would fund the nutcase there would be no problem. But, back to the point, Prince Lorenz and Princess Astrid later went to a Choir of the European Union.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Belgian Queen of Italy

Queen Marie-José, the last Queen of Italy, was born a little Princesse of Belgium in 1906, her father was King Albert Ier and her mother was Queen Elisabeth of Bavaria. The only daughter with two brothers, she was planned to make a proper Catholic royal marriage from a very young age. Coming from a very traditional and conservative family, she would not always follow the expected path. Her youth was spent in education, athletic sports and playing the piano and violin. Her violin teacher impressed her with socialist sympathies, something not very acceptable then as it would be today. During the Great War she was sent safely to England and attended Catholic school. Not long after coming home her marriage was the top priority.

She would have to marry a proper Catholic royal heir but by the end of the war there were very few left. The Bavarian and Austrian monarchies were gone, the Portuguese monarchie was gone and the Spanish about to fall as well. The only real option was the Kingdom of Italy and heir to the Savoy house throne Prince Umberto of Piedmont. They met, still children, just before the war ended which greatly upset great aunt Marie-Sophie of Bavaria, the widowed last Queen of the Two Sicilies who was a passionate enemy of the House Savoy and unified Italy. Marie-José continued her education in Brussels after the war and in 1930 married Prince Umberto of Piedmont though it was an arranged marriage and not a happy one.

The couple lived in Turin and later Naples and had four children, only one son, whose birth as future King and Emperor (this was after the conquest of Ethiopia) was much heralded by the fascist press as the first prince born into the era of the empire (not to last long as we know now). Not everyone in Italy welcomed the new Princesse Marie-José of Piedmont. Conservatives were put off by her short hair and modern fashions but many others tried to copy her, making her a fashionable role model for the elites of Italian society. She was not political, having friends in the fascist party and friends opposed to it but she did help the agenda of the party pushing for “back to basics” motherhood methods such as breastfeeding. She allowed herself to be photographed breastfeeding (which again put off conservatives) to encourage upper class Italian ladies that such was fashionable and not something only for peasant women. We know now that this was very good advice.

When the Second Great War started Marie-José was distressed immensely by the invasion and occupation of Belgium and wanted to rush to the side of her family but her husband persuaded her to stay for the good of Italy. That was important because she showed herself the most intelligent person at court and was a crucial intermediary between the Allies and the Italian government. After Mussolini was dismissed and the King abdicated Umberto and Marie-José became King and Queen of Italy during the month of May in 1946. When the Italian monarchy was ended there was no more reason for the couple to endure their marriage and they separated but out of respect for the Church and any slight hope of a return to the throne never legally divorced.

The former Queen, Marie-José, lived in Mexico for a short time giving piano lessons but spent most of her exile in Switzerland. Everyone she went she was a respected and beloved member of the musical, artistic community. When she died of lung cancer at very advanced age in Geneva in 2001 the Italian government showed signs of some regrets. The love and sympathy for the ‘Queen of May’ Marie-José prompted them to finally abolish the law banning the Savoy Royal Family from Italy and allowing her family to return to their native soil. She was buried alongside her estranged husband in Savoy. Italian royalists said that they hoped some day the whole family could be buried together and that all Italians, royalist or republican, adored Queen Marie-José from Belgium because of her love of the Italian people and her love of liberty.

S.M. Albert II, National Day Address

The King of the Belgians addresses the people on National Day. You can see the video here or read the text of his statement here.

Discours de S.M. le Roi - Fête Nationale 21/07/2010
Uploaded by Belgium_be. - Watch the latest news videos.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brother Kings

The future Kings, Baudouin and Albert II dressed for the sea
Probably my favorite picture of the two brothers, future Kings Baudouin and Albert II

The brothers with their father S.M. Leopold III
Prince Baudouin and Prince Albert pose with hunting trophies, they look a little aprehensive

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Rexisme was an old political movement with a sordid past in Belgium. I regret not having more information on it, just for my own interest if no one else, but it was not very consistent, always controversial and something the older people I know do not want to talk about. It sounds like Rexisme started out as a very good idea to me but overtime it became very detached from its origins as the leadership became more and more intoxicated by the success (if you can call it that) of the NSDAP in Germany. Rexisme was a movement started by the nationalist leader, a very young man, Leon Degrelle, today one of the most infamous Nazi collaborators of Belgian history. Of course he was not in those days and had extensively traveled the world where he was particularly impressed by the failed Catholic revolution in Mexico.

The war cry of these Mexicans was VIVA CRISTO REY! That was what inspired the name for the movement Degrelle began. Rexisme advocated a very nationalist, authoritarian and very Catholic Belgium. It called for a moral rejuvenation of the country (good idea I think), rejected capitalism and democracy because of the corruption of the wealthy elite and the politicians and instead called for a corporatist government such as the Catholic Church had been supportive of. I do not know that corporatism has ever been fully tried in the modern world but it sounds like a good idea to me. Also important for is that the Rexists were supportive of the monarchy, that being one of the few things about the country’s government that they did not want to get rid of and totally change. The parliament would remain as well but in a very limited form since the corporate system would represent all interests.

Rexisme stressed that the corrupt rich people and the purchased governments were only in it for themselves and purposely created divisions between the people to distract from what they were doing and remain in power. Once again, this sounds very true to me and still probably the case today even. Originally, in the continent of Europe, the man most Rexists looked to was Benito Mussolini of Italy who was being very successful and, remember, was having kind words said about him by leaders like President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi in India. In Italy the Fascist party also advocated a muddled, limited kind of corporatism (I think Mussolini tended to just use the term because he did not know what his core ideology could be called) and it had a monarchy to maintain Italian traditions and made peace with the Catholic Church by signing the Lateran Pact.

Up till this point I have to say that Rexisme would have sounded pretty good to me. However, the young Degrelle was great at being a populist leader, giving inspirational speeches, but was also easily influenced himself and it seems his big trouble started when, in European politics, the success of Mussolini was eclipsed by Adolph Hitler. After this time Rexisme began to show signs of more and more imitating the NSDAP in Germany with thug leader style and growing racism and anti-Semitism which originally had no part in the Rexist platform. Degrelle had been doing very good politically, at one point even earning more votes that any other Belgian politician ever had but the Nazi attraction would be poisonous.
The Catholic Church leadership in Belgium turned against Rexisme as being too extremist. This was a bad blow since the Rexist magazine had become the most popular Catholic periodical in Europe. The growing racism and anti-Semitism, following the German example, really put the Church off, also because of the way Catholics and Christianity in general was being treated in Germany where most Catholics voted for their own parties against the NSDAP. But, by then the leadership of the Rexist movement was largely convinced that Hitler was the man of the future and they rushed ahead regardless of the Church and by then most of the people turning against them. Despite the admiration though, Degrelle did not want Belgium made a battlefield again and support the policy of King Leopold III to try to keep the kingdom neutral in the building Second World War.

This is significant because some people since have said that King Leopold III and the Rexisme shared a common agenda. This would probably have been big news to the King who I cannot see having anything to do with them, especially after they became more radical. He probably agreed with some of their early ideas, that were good ones, like many people did, but this sounds to me like just a way of attacking the legacy of the King because of the low reputation of Rexisme after the war. I have never seen any evidence that the King sympathized with them nor have I seen really any signs that they craved his approval. I cannot imagine the King doing that, taking a side, for any political party or movement whatever.

World War II was really the end of Rexisme. The Germans occupied the country and some followed the example of Leon Degrelle who joined the German war effort to fight the hated communists on the Eastern European front. Others were horrified by the cruelty of the Germans and the pagan style and anti-Catholic attitudes of the Nazi Party officials they saw. This caused some Rexists to join the underground resistance against the Germans. Degrelle, however, fought for Hitler and proved to be a very heroic and talented soldier. He earned a heap of medals and decorations and Hitler even said to Degrelle that if he had a son he would want him to be like Degrelle, mostly I assume because he was such a great warrior. As for Degrelle, he became a hopeless Hitler sycophant for the rest of his life. All of this made Rexisme ‘guilty by association’ and killed the movement. After the war his family was persecuted and Degrelle escaped to Spain under threat of execution where he lived the rest of his life unrepentant and totally convinced that Hitler was right and everyone else was wrong. Even he seems to have abandoned the movement he started by the end of his life.

King Leopold and Queen Astrid (engagement)

A much happier occasion

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Belgian Forces in Afghanistan

Since the start of the NATO mission to liberate Afghanistan from Taliban rule the Kingdom of Belgium, part of the EU and a NATO ally, also sent military forces to help in what was called mission BELU ISAF 21. The military presence has been between 590 and 600 Belgian soldiers. The primary duty of the Belgian contingent has been to provide crucial security for the Kabul International Airport. It had been expected that the military mission would end last year but, at the request of President Obama of the United States, the mission was extended for a year. Obviously economic problems have been a major part of this with unfortunate reductions being made in the army because of budget shortages.
Aside from keeping open the vital Kabul airport, Belgian units (KUNDUZ 16) have also participated in the defense of the northern PRT's Kunduz (in the north where the majority of allied forces are German) and Mazari Sharif as well as Kandahar in the south. Since 2008 the Belgian air component has deployed four F-16's (the American "Fighting Falcon" attack jet) and 140 associated support troops to Afghanistan based at Kandahar Airport. The Belgian fighter jets operate in close cooperation with the Netherlands aircraft of the same type that have long operated out of that area. Plans have been approved to send more aircraft, probably 4 more F-16's and about 150 more troops to see the mission through.
Belgian forces have done great service on a number of special missions such as the rescue of a British journalist working for the New York Times in September of last year. The Belgian military has also sent a number of military instructors to assist in the large-scale campaign to train and prepare the Afghan military forces to function without foreign assistance and make it so the NATO forces can come back to their own homelands again. These are great heroes doing a great and noble mission in the world today. God bless the brave troops!

The First Crusader

Today the Muslim population is exploding in Belgium (no joke) both because of laws, Belgian and EU, favoring immigration from Africa and Asia and also because they are just have many more babies than the native Belgians. This is already leading to big problems of assimiliation and social cohesian and we see this in the burqa ban and other laws. It is ironic that while politicians continue to try to encourage the divisions between the Flemish and Walloon populations, even endangering the country itself, they encourage acceptance of diversity and more immigration that means soon all Belgians, Dutch or French speaking, will be outnumbered by Muslims. This should not be allowed! Nothing could be more contrary to the history and culture of Belgium which is a country of Christian religion, love of life, love of liberty, and love of beauty. If there is a Muslim majority in the country the Kingdom of Belgium will not be one anyone will recognize any more from the country that has always been.

What makes this even more outrageous is that the first Crusader of history was the Belgian noble knight Godfrey de Bouillon. His example shows that the current viewpoint of the Christian armies that fought in the Middle East is totally wrong, that they were good men but like many good man they are attacked today for that basic reason. During the First Crusade there was no official leader but 2 or 3 gradually emerged and the greatest of these was Godfrey de Bouillon who led the knights from Lorraine, Belgium and other 'Low Countries' area. Even though they had every disadvantage the Catholic Crusaders, small armies of Christian warriors, captured Nicea in April 1097, Dorylaeum in July and Antioch the next year. In 1099 they moved to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims and Godfrey de Bouillon led the attack, the final attack, in a siege tower that he had to support with his own back when a holding beam broke and fell!

Godfrey and his Belgian soldiers smashed through the Gate of St Stephen, as the shock troops of the army, so that the French knights of Raymond of Toulouse could charge in to take the city. Then there was the infamous "sack of Jerusalem" where some of the Christian knights got out of hand and killed some civilians and destroyed some parts of Jerusalem. However, Godfrey de Bouillon took no part in that action and condemned it for being behavior unworthy of the Catholic religion. He was such a great warrior and such a respected man of integrity that he became the first King of Jerusalem. Are modern people really that aware of this great historical hero?

If Godfrey de Bouillon could see Belgium today, what do you think he would say about the large and growing Muslim presence? If King Richard 'Heart of the Lion' could see England today what would he say? Religion used to be something that the large majority of Belgians had in common, even if not everyone carries it out the same way or to the same extent, but being a Catholic country was something that united the people because most everyone had that in common with each other. How can a growing Muslim population do anything but cause even more division to the country? How can such a population ever really fit in to a country that is so directly opposed to what they are all about? The culture of Belgium and the culture of Islam are opposed to each other and if things continue as they are one will have to win and one will have to lose, one will dominate and the other will be suppressed. I know which side I support! Vive le Belge!

Interview About Prince Alexandre

Princess Marie-Esmeralda talks about her brother Prince Alexandre in an interview for the Belgian Royal Family blog (in French).