Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our Great Kings, Part V, Baudouin

The memory of King Baudouin is still very respected in Belgium, I think, but also he has had his critics also. If he made some missteps, these were not important when compared to the tremendous burdens he had to deal with during his reign on the throne, coming in after the abdication of his father, when the country was feared to be on the edge of civil war, reuniting the public, dealing the de-colonization, federalism and international tensions and also a very changing society from the traditional values of the old days. Any accusations of personal immorality on his part are so ridiculous, no one fortunately believes them. It is not worth even mentioning because everyone knowing the King could see his very strong traditional values and religious principles. Belgium has had six kings, half were not always perfectly virtuous in their private lives but half were absolutely spotless and Baudouin was one of those without question. Most of the criticism directed toward King Baudouin I have seen usually involves the Congo belge and the delicate circumstances of the time of independence for that country.

King Baudouin was actually very popular in the Congo and was welcomed with great love and affection when he visited before independence. At the handover of this, however, he was criticized for his speech, a speech which was entirely truthful and most importantly which tried to put the situation of the two countries in the best terms to go forward in peaceful cooperation as friends. He is not to blame that Premier Lumumba took the opportunity to respond by arousing racial hatred and national antagonism toward Belgium which resulted in waves of attacks, rapes and murders against Belgians in the Congo which forces some minor intervention. None of this was the fault of King Baudouin who always and in every instance tried to arrange peaceful, friendly relations between the countries. King Baudouin was very well known for his outspoken opposition to racism, nationalist bigotry and xenophobia. In Belgium was no different and while he would be friends with all political parties he would never meet with the racists or parties that promoted nationalist bigotry. He also campaigned against sexual exploitation around the world and against poverty that degraded the human condition. Even though values were changing, the people still respected King Baudouin for his firm principles, his simplicity and sincerity. He did good in bringing people back together from the time he first came to the throne. However, it was also during his reign that federalism became the new rule and this would, ultimately, as we see now, push people apart again and turn Belgium into a country of divided camps. During his reign this was not always apparent though because King Baudouin was so respected by everyone, so admired by the people, he truly united everyone. He was a great king.


  1. My favorite, without question. In my humble opinion, King Baudouin is probably the one monarch of my lifetime that I admire most. May he pray for his people today...

  2. Yes, may he pray for his people, along with his mother and grandfather King Albert.