King Leopold III of Belgium and World War II

On 6 June 1944, the Normandy landings, also called D-Day
took place. This marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
It was the end of an occupied Belgium.

However for King Leopold III of Belgium and his family the end
of the war wasn't a happy period at all.

Who was King Leopold?

King Leopold III of Belgium was born on 3 November 1901
in Brussels. He died on 25 September 1983.

He was the eldest son of King Albert I of Belgium and Queen
Elisabeth. (Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria).

In 1926 he married Princess Astrid of Sweden. They had 3
children. In 1935 Astrid died in Switzerland.


World War II

When World War II broke out in September 1939, France and
Great-Britain tried to persuade Belgium to join them. Leopold III
and his governement refused. They wanted to maintain Belgium's
neutrality.



On 10 May 1940, nazi Germany invaded Belgium. The Belgian
army was overwhelmed by the German forces, nevertheless the
Belgian perseverance prevented the British Expeditionary Force
from being outflanked and cut off
the coast, enabling the evacuation from Dunkirk.

On 10 May 1940, King Leopold III of Belgium moved to the
Fort of Breendonk without the permission of his government
and without a speech for the parliament. He took up the role as
chief of the Belgian army.

Unlike Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, King Leopold III
refused to leave Belgium. On 25 May 1940, King George VI of
the United Kingdom tried to persuade him to come to London but
King Leopold III was convinced of his own right.

After his military surrender on 28 May 1940, King  Leopold III
of Belgium remained in Brussels to surrender to the victorious invaders,
while his entire civil government fled to Paris and later to London.



On 4 June 1940 Winston Churchill said:

'At the last moment when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold
called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came.
He and his brave efficient army, nearly half a million strong, guarded
our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. 
Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, 
without the advice of his ministers and upon his own personal act, he 
sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his army 
and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.'

During the war, King Leopold III of Belgium, attempted to assert his
authority as monarch and head of the Belgian government, though the
Germans kept him as a prisoner.

Since June 1940, King Leopold III of Belgium even wanted a meeting
with Adolf Hitler. The King finally met him on 19 November 1940.
Hitler refused to speak about the independence of Belgium. In this
way he saved the King from being seen as cooperating with Nazi
Germany.

On 11 September 1941, as a prisoner of the Germans, King Leopold III
of Belgium secretly married Lilian Baels in a religious ceremony that
had no validity under the Belgian Law. On 6 December 1941 they
were married under civil law. It was Cardinal van Roey who wrote an
open letter to the parish priests throughout the country to tell that the
King was married. His new wife would be known as Princesse de Réthy.
Any of their children would have no claim to the Belgian throne.
This caused many damage in Belgium for the popularity of
King Leopold III.

In January 1944, King Leopold III of Belgium wrote his Political
Testament. The Belgian government did not publish this document
and they tried to ignore it. The reaction of Churchill to this document
was:
'It stinks'

In June 1944, King Leopold III and his family were deported to
Germany. The Nazis held the family in a fort at Hirchstein in Saxony
and after March 1945 at Strobl in Austria.

In May 1945, Leopold and his family were freed by members of the
United States 106th. Cavalry Group.

Leopold III, his wife and children were unable to return to Belgium
due to the controversy about his conduct during the war. They moved
to Pregny-Chambésy near Geneva in Switzerland.

Meanwhile in Belgium, in September 1944, the Belgian government
asked Prince Charles, the brother of King Leopold III of Belgium to
become a regent. All these events led in 1950 to the 'Koningskwestie'
and the abdication of King Leopold III in favor of his eldest son:
King Baudouin.

Conclusion

Although Leopold III, only was King of Belgium for 6 years, before
World War II broke out, his reign still caused much controversy. He
was loved and hated. He was a very handsome and popular King, 
but his second marriage and his behavour during World War II 
caused a huge downfall.

Nevertheless, I remember, when I was little, on my grandparent's
attic, there were hanging 2 royal portraits on the wall. One of
Queen Astrid of Belgium (first wife of King Leopold III)
 and one of King Leopold III of Belgium. 

I believed that many people who have been through World War II,
didn't know always what happened exactly. And perhaps, it's good 
not to know everything yet. 


Source pictures: Wikipedia

Royal Shopping Wittamer

Belgium is known for its beer and it chocolate. Since I don't like beer that
much, I unfortunately :-) really enjoy chocolate as the Belgian royal family does.

On the Place du Grand Sablon in Brussels there is a very famous boulangerie
called Wittamer and this shop received a royal warrant of appointment to the
Belgian Court.

Wittamer



Some Royal History

Already in 1910 Henri Wittamer opened his boulangerie with his wife Marie
on the Place du Grand Sablon.

The shop passed on to his son Henri II and his wife Yvonne. Their son called
Henri III (to make it easy) and his sister Myriam took over Wittamer in the
1960's.

Henri III had his training as maître chocolatier in Switzerland. In these years
the process of manufacturing was modernised with new technological
developments. In the 1980's new ideas also were introduced.

In the 1980's Wittamer opened its first shop in Osaka in Japan.
Nowadays the company is ruinning with the fourth generation of the family.

On 4 December 1999, the wedding of Countess Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz
and Philippe, Crown Prince of Belgium took place. Wittamer received the
honour to create the dessert.

On the 80th. B-Day of Queen Paola of the Belgians, Wittamer also made
a very nice B-day cake.

Wittamer 



A visit

Wittamer has a café located on number 6 of the Place du Grand Sablon
in Brussels. It really is a nice neighborhood with lots of little classy
shops Even on Sunday, a small market takes place there.

These own pictures were taken in 2017.

Wittamer sweets