Until making the acquaintance of a certain “mad man” I had no real contact with the community “monarchists”. Like most people I did not think too much about it, I always support my country, my monarchie and that is all. Since I have had more contact I have found being a Belgian royaliste can put you in a minority even for the monarchists. I found out myself that just because some one says they are a monarchist does not mean they support the Kingdom of Belgium. In fact, I heard many of the same arguments one hears often of the regionalist republican factions that Belgium is not “really” a country, it is an “invented state” or there is just “no reason” for Belgium to even exist. So, these “monarchists” would tell King Albert II and the Saxe-Coburgs (the last having a throne after the Queen in England) to pack their bags and go because there is no “reason” for there to be a Belgium anyway. This made me exceptionally angry I confess because I did not expect these same attacks on my country and my king from people who identify as supporters of monarchie in the world. I get angry enough of anyone attacking in words my king and my people, no matter the language they speak (I come from both).
Moderates voices seem to support Belgium, but not with very much enthusiasm. Rather they defend their own and not care too much if that of another is under attack. I admit my friend the Mad Monarchist is an exception to this since I have known him to strongly defend the monarchie of any country that was under attack as if it were the most important in the world, no matter where it is from. I know him and know he has very definite opinions and preferences but these are put aside for his position of being what he calls “pan-monarchist”. Not many are like that though. In my experience, I was surprised at who attacked the Belgian kingdom and who, if they would not defend it really, would not be attacking it. I was surprised to see monarchists British not joining in attacking Belgium. I should not really be but I have been so used to attacks and insults on Belgium coming from Great Britain but this should not be. Both countries have had the same royal family basically from the time of Prince Albert in Great Britain and King Leopold I in Belgium. Both countries have always been allies (even if not always trusting) and should continue I think.
I was surprised to see the most active attacks and insults coming from the direction of France (just to remind, I do not say this to cover everyone, only the experience of myself in dealing with monarchists slandering Belgium). One, perhaps, was more understandable, coming from a supporter of the House Bonaparte. I guess they would oppose any kingdom they think the French Empire should control. But for simply a French royaliste I do not understand the opposition to Belgium. The French kingdom was crucial in securing the independence of the modern Kingdom of Belgium, King Louis Philippe intervened to convince the Dutch not to make a fight against the independence movement. Also, we know, the first Queen of the Belgians was French! Louise d’Orléans, consort of King Leopold I, was daughter of the French king and a princesse of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies family branch. I could possibly understand the French Republic opposing to Belgium just because they might hate kings regardless, but it makes no sense for monarchist French to oppose Belgium when royal France supported the creation of modern Belgium, the first Queen was French and so the second King of the Belgians was half-French. I also could point out for those supporting Bonaparte that the Belgian and Bonaparte families are related now also.
The issue of Belgium being an “artificial” country also is one I have answered so many times it is exhausting. Belgium is not “artificial” or “invented” or anything like that. I have (tried) shown here many times that Belgian history is ancient, going back to Roman times. The regions of today have been unique but united since the days many centuries ago of Burgundy, Hapsburg Spain and Austria when the first union was formed. Belgium existed long before 1830, before the Dutch were given the area it was the Austrian Netherlands but many people even then still called the area Belgium and for a very long time called the people of that region Belgians even when there was no independent country named “Belgium”. Vlaanderen, Wallonie have been together for hundreds of years and it was not “artificial” pulling things out of the air in 1830 to put them together in their own independent kingdom. There had even already been a short period of independence before that, I have blogged about this, that was the United States of Belgium in 1788-90.
Some of the objection (I am told more than experiencing) is on religious grounds by ultra-conservative Catholics. This, I do not comprehend also and as I have said I am Catholic of course, not very religious, but I know the Catholic Church has always been important in Belgium. The area has always been Catholic, that was even another source of unity. The Protestants became the Netherlands but the Hapsburg-retained south, Dutch and French speaking, remained Catholic. The first King was not but his wife and children were and the Catholic clergy were very supportive of the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium. I understand they were reluctant toward this but the actions of the House Orange in supporting Protestants they finally decided the revolution was justified. It is true that Belgium is not an officially religious state but the monarchie especially has been more Catholic than most. The country then is not officially Catholic but the monarchie is (most people traditionally too but I address here the monarchie).
King Leopold I supported his daughter and Maximilian von Hapsburg in cooperation with the Catholic party in establishing the Mexican throne. King Leopold II supported Catholic missionaries to the Congo and the Belgian volunteers who went to Rome to fight for the Pope against the Italian unification powers. King Albert I was very religious and was the only Allied leader to answer the plea of the Pope for just and peaceful end to the Great War. King Leopold III also was a deeply religious man, keeping Catholic principles in mind in all of his conduct. We know how King Baudouin was very religious and risked political crisis to refuse a law the Catholic Church said was immoral. We know also King Albert II had protested against such laws the Church objected too also. Where else, I would like to know, is a monarchy still existing that has been so strongly Catholic as this even with no official state religion and total religious freedom (who thought some would even be around now who think that is a negative)? So, I have seen all of these objections, considered them and none of them make any sense to me at all. Anti-Belgian bigotry is common (and since blogging I have found in history this is not new) and since their arguments make no sense I can only assume this is the real reason for them. To all of those, I say, please, get past that. I have no prejudice against countries (even Germany that I am wary of considering) so please do not be prejudiced against mine.