Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Sire, there are no Belgians"

From The Economist:
MORE than two centuries after French revolutionaries guillotined Louis XVI, Europeans still love their kings and queens. A quarter of the European Union is made up of constitutional monarchies. Even those living in republics are fascinated by this year’s royal foibles: in Spain King Juan Carlos made a rare apology for going on an elephant-hunting jaunt while his people suffered recession and unemployment; in the Netherlands Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son Willem-Alexander; and in Britain William and Kate produced a little prince.

In purely political terms however, perhaps the royal event with the greatest importance took place this week in Belgium. Albert II surrendered the throne to his son, Philippe, now the seventh King of the Belgians. The monarchy is one of the few institutions that still hold Belgium together. And unlike other European royals, Belgian kings play a vital role in mediating the formation of governments. For a small country of 11m people, Belgium is bewilderingly divided into three federal regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) and three linguistic communities (Dutch, French and a small German one), each with its own parliament. (Read entire article.)


May said...

Jules Destree's comment, which forms the title of the article, is often quoted, but he himself, as I recall, later changed his tune, after seeing the cohesion of Belgians during World War I...I will have to look that up again.

Enbrethiliel said...


A Japanese friend I had in uni who was rather anti-monarchist admitted that there are few things these days which can unite the Japanese people as much as their royal family can. I wish I had paid closer attention when she was talking about Japan's reaction to its last royal baby, because I'd love to compare it to England's anticipation and celebration of the birth of Prince George!