Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Legend of Queen Astrid

This is a fascinating story and one that is not particularly well-known in English-speaking countries. 

On his excellent blog, The Cross of Laeken, Matterhorn (whose comments on this blog I always enjoy very much) reflects on the premature death of Queen Astrid (above), the glamorous Swedish princess who married Leopold III, King of the Belgians, and the public outpouring of grief at her passing which led directly to the hostility felt towards her husband's second wife, Princess Lilian. 


  1. Thank you very much for this. I hope that, in time, people will take a more balanced view of Princess Lilian. She is not the first royal lady, who lived in troubled times, to have been hysterically maligned, apparently beyond all reality. In contrast to other cases, though, passions have not had enough time to cool.

    Nonetheless, for those who read French, a very interesting, touching and nuanced portrayal of Lilian is offered in LE MYTHE D'ARGENTEUIL, which can be previewed here:'argenteuil&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

  2. In early 1940 Leopold III surrendered to Germans and I am vaguely familiar with the political bunfight that the king's decision unleashed. Although Belgium was on a hiding to nothing, I can imagine that Parliament was furious at the king.

    At the end of 1941, the king married for a second time and this time the citizens were not happy. But isn't it possible that their unhappiness was misdirected? Rather than poor old Princess Lilian being in the wrong, I suggest that Leopold was in the wrong for surrendering to the Germans.

  3. Hels, I'd have to respectfully disagree that Leopold was in the wrong for surrendering. He only did so in desperate circumstances. Here is an account by Admiral Roger Keyes, the British liaison officer who defended the king from the charges of treason and cowardice:

    I can also recommend reading the book written by Keyes' son, OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. He argues that Leopold was made a scapegoat for the Allied disaster in 1940.

    Here is an article from the Churchill Centre:

    From what I've seen, there had been tensions between the king, the government, and parliament for years, and many took advantage of the controversy over the surrender for their own ends.


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