Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is Willem I Statue a Sign?

A committee in the city of Ghent has asked to put up a statue of King Willem I of the Netherlands, saying that he was very good for their city. This caused some disquieted feelings when I saw the news but not only because of this alone. It is not so bad for Ghent to want a statue of King Willem I (though I am unsure of other countries with statues of foreign kings put up in today's times). He was, after all, a figure of Belgian history and he was our monarch as part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands from the defeat of Waterloo to the 1830 Revolution. That conflict and the independence probably would not have been able to happen if Willem I had been not so heavy-handed but regardless, it is true he was a significant figure. Taken together though with the risen popularity of the Flemish radical nationalists, the inability to form a government and the recent suggestion by the NV-A that the Benelux countries combine their militaries to save costs all makes me worry that Belgium (and possibly even Luxembourg) could be lost in such a union so much dominated by the greater numbers of the Dutch. I like the Netherlands, I like their Family Royal and admire their history, all they accomplished around the world and I want to be good neighbors but I do not want anything that endangers the continued life and independence of the Belgian kingdom.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it is a question of timing. Putting up this statue might not be a problem in other circumstances, but in combination with the factors you mention it is rather troubling. Especially as I have seen Flemish separatist writers suggesting that the Flemish never wanted anything to do with the Belgian Revolution in the first place and that it was all a contrivance of the wicked Walloons.