Saturday, May 23, 2009

Baudouin I of Belgium

Part 1 in a series about a modern Catholic monarch.
Baudouin I (1930-1993) was the fifth King of the Belgians. He possessed the patriotism and high principles of his predecessors, Albert I and Leopold III, yet his reign, tragically, saw Belgium's political and moral decline.

Born Baudouin Albert Charles Leopold Axel Marie Gustave at Stuyvenberg Castle, near Brussels, on September 7, 1930, he was the eldest son of Prince Leopold and Princess Astrid of Belgium. His sister, Josephine-Charlotte, had been born in 1927; his brother, Albert, would follow in 1934. The year of Baudouin's birth coincided with the centenary of Belgian independence. The arrival of the long-awaited royal heir was a joyful event for his family and people. Princess Astrid wrote to a friend proudly announcing the birth, underlining the words "our son" several times. "You understand how happy we are that it is a boy," she wrote,"it is a joy not only for us, but for everyone here in Belgium..."(Sparre, p. 130)
Part 2, HERE.

On December 15, 1960, 9 years after his accession, King Baudouin married the Spanish noblewoman, Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragon. The wedding was magnificent and the mood in Belgium was enthusiastic. Since the tragic death of Baudouin's mother, Astrid, in 1935, the Belgians had lacked a Queen Consort and they were delighted to welcome one again. Fabiola's personal modesty and charm won her great popularity. By all accounts, the marriage was a collaborative and devoted one. Sadly, however, the royal couple remained childless. As she recalled in a recent interview, the Queen suffered five miscarriages. At one point, rumors circulated that the King was seeking an annulment from the Vatican. This, of course, was nonsense, but it surely added to the royal couple's distress.


May said...

Thank you for this link! God bless.

Stephanie A. Mann said...

Of course, I can't help but think of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon--but also of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. Henry turned the world upside down to dissolve his marriage. Charles II refused to divorce Catherine even when Parliament demanded a Protestant heir.

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, Matterhorn!

Thank you for making the comparison, Stephanie. And while Henry broke his ties with Rome, Charles eventually found his way there.