Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Astrid tells husband of king's death

Marlene A. Eilers-Koenig Collection
February 18, 1934

It was Princess Astrid who broke the news of King Albert's death to her husband, Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant.  The couple were staying at a hotel in Adelboden, Switzerland, when word reached them of the King's death.

So consumed by grief, the Crown Prince found himself unable to talk with anyone who "tried to express their sympathy."

The Duke and Duchess traveled by car and train back to Brussels because the Prime Minister "objected" to Leopold's wish to return to Brussels by plane "in view of the possibility of another accident.

The 33-year-old heir to the throne is a "convinced democrat, a soldier and a sober, serious student of government.  He is "assured of a warm welcome" from the Belgian people.

The Duke of Brabant's marriage to Princess Astrid of Sweden was seen to be a love match.  They married in 1926, and Astrid soon won the hearts "of the Belgian working classes."  They live a life of "domestic virtue."

Leopold wooed his princess quietly, disguised as a "servant to escape public attention."

The royal couple has two children: Princess Josephine Charlotte,6, and three-year-old Prince Baudouin.   Princess Astrid expects a third child in the spring.

The Crown Princess is a niece of King Gustav V of Sweden. 

When the engagement was announced in 1926, King Albert said: "Their marriage is entirely on of inclination.  They are acting in complete liberty and independence, making their decision without interference from anybody.

After the birth of Princess Josephine Charlotte,  Princess Astrid was seen "pushing a baby carriage along the shady Avenue Louise," along with many mothers of the working classes.

The new Queen shares an interest in nursing with Queen Elisabeth, and often visits hospitals.  She is also interested in child welfare.

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