Embed from Getty Images
King Leopold III of Belgium and the Princess de Réthy have an audience with Pope Pius XII at the Vatican on this day in 1950, just a few weeks before the King was able to return to Belgium following almost 10 years of exile, and his subsequent abdication in the midst of a political crisis in favour of his son, King Baudouin. King Leopold and the Belgian Royal Family had earlier had an Audience at the Vatican in 1930, ahead of the wedding of his sister to the Italian Crown Prince.
2 thoughts on “King Leopold III and the Princess de Réthy at the Vatican, 1950”
I sort of feel sorry for King Leopold III. I think the Belgian people completely misunderstood his position during WWII and thought, incorrectly, that he was a collaborator. Nothing further from the truth. He and his family were prisoners of the Nazis to the point where they were saved from certain death by Princess Lillian’s scruples. Towards the very end of the war, she thought that a so-called vitamin the Nazis gave her for the children was not quite what it seemed so she didn’t give it to them. That turned out to be providential because it was indeed poison! The whole Belgian royal family would have been completely wiped out if it weren’t for her sagacity. Instead of showing their gratitude, the Belgian people repudiated her to where she couldn’t even call herself queen. This is what I have read about this subject, but I am sure there are many versions of it out there. However, I think that the fact remains that Leopold III and his family were not collaborators, but were indeed prisoners. Maybe his mistake was staying with his people instead of fleeing like so many other royal families did.
Yes, King Leopold III was very badly treated by the Belgian people, and a lot of that has to do with the British and French propaganda which turned them against him