Princess de Réthy

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The Princess de Réthy was born on this day in 1916. Born Lilian Baels in London to a wealthy political family, she grew up between Belgium and the United Kingdom. In 1941, she married the widowed King Leopold the II of Belgium, then held as a prisoner of war by the Nazis in occupied Belgium. However, she declined to take the title of Queen, preferring to be known as the Princess de Réthy. Public reaction was mixed to the marriage, as many felt the timing was inappropriate and dishonoured the memory of the beloved Queen Astrid. However, the Princess was a loving and affectionate to her three stepchildren, and was adored by them. During WWII, the family were deported into Nazi Germany, kept in harsh conditions, and due to political controversy, were unable to return to Belgium until 1950, with King Leopold abdicating soon afterwards, in favour of his son, King Baudoin. King Leopold and the Princess de Réthy, who had three children, resided first at the Royal Palace at Laeken and then at the estate of Argenteuil. The Princess however, remained very unpopular despite her extensive patronages and charitable work, which including founding a Cardiological Foundation.Widowed in 1983, the Princess de Réthy passed away in 2002.

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