At the Cross of Laeken blog was recently discussed the antagonism of the brothers King Leopold III and regent Prince Charles. Not thinking before of this in such a way, I realized this was not totally uncommon in the Family Royal and probably not in any family of ordinary people also. I started to look at how very different royals brothers have had the habit to be in the family history.
Starting from the very begining we have the case of future King Leopold II and his brother Prince Philippe Count of Flanders. They were very different from each other in temperment. King Leopold II, even very young, was described being a very shy, solitary person who was difficult interacting with other people and found it easier to have strict protocol to avoid 'natural' moments. Prince Philippe, on the contrary, was described as very forward, friendly and having a joyous exuberance that made him comfortable being around people and people liked being around him. He was very popular and had many friends. Leopold II did not have such. Both had great intellectual curiosity but they did not have a good relationship. One very religious, the other not, one happily married, the other certainly not. Two brothers totally unalike and very difficult to get along with each other.
Next consider the brothers King Leopold III and Prince Charles. You can go to the link for Laeken to see just how much they did not get along with each other. Leopold III was having a very even temper, very religious, very determined and composed in times of crisis and very devoted to his family. Prince Charles seemed rather moody, holding on to any slight, not very religious and rather self-centred. He did, I know, do service to the country as regent and very much credit is given to him for this but he had an attitude of betrayal regarding his brother and King and was too quick I think to assume the credit for (as they say in America) 'pushing his brother under the bus' to be seen himself as the savior of the situation. King Leopold wanted everyone to get along and even gave up his throne to avoid divisions and controversy. Prince Charles does not seem to have cared what hurt or problems others had to deal with.
There is then the king-brothers Baudouin and Albert II. Thankfully their relationship was better than some of the brothers gone before them but still they were very different kinds of people. King Baudouin was very conservative, very religious and uncompromising. King Albert II has been more liberal, at least not very religious at times of his life and willing to compromise. Where King Baudouin would stand against the flood, King Albert II prefers to 'go with the flow'. King Baudouin also had a very happy marriage with Queen Fabiola while King Albert II, though happily married now, did have his bad times in his marriage with Queen Paola. The difference between them also is seen in the widely spread talk that King Baudouin did not really favor his brother to succeed him but preferred his nephew Prince Philippe. This did not happen, both for the government and the sudden death of King Baudouin no one expected.
Finally even today we see such differences between Prince Philippe and Prince Laurent. We see often in the news talk of some scandal (usually over exaggerated) with Prince Laurent but the complaints toward Prince Philippe is just being boring -no scandals. One goes to the disco and the other goes to Church. One brother wants a special license for people who drive fast cars and the other was mocked for proposing legislation to ban pornography. Prince Laurent is very blunt and outspoken, his comments often attracting unwanted attention of the media while Prince Philippe does not like to be centre of attention and has not always been a very confident public speaker. Prince Laurent seems almost always relaxed while Prince Philippe often seems anxious or worried, unless he is with his wife and children. He has enough to worry about though and I hope he can manage and that his brother will be more supportive of him than some in the past.