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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 16, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta ROYAL FLAP Banned radio series rekindles twenty-year-oJd bitter controversy that led to abdication of a king and a nation to brink of civil war BRUSSELS (CP) A deci- sion by the state-owned broad- casting system against carry- Ing a radio series about the stormy events culminating in the abdication of King Leo- pold HI of the Belgians has spurred a revival of interest in that crisis, which brought Belgium to the brink of civil war in 1950. do they want to Leopold HI bide'' demanded one Brus- sels magazine in attacking the decision. The broadcasting authori- ties said they didn't want to rekindle old polemical pas- sions and added that numer- ous participants in the dra- matic developments constitut- ing "1'affaire royale" had cited the same consideration in reversing their original de- cision to make themselves available for the projected se- ries But the iournahsts working for the broadcasting system hinted that party political pressure had prompted the withdrawal decisions. The journalists maintained that this kind of pressure un- dermines the independence and objectivity of news serv- ices. And the French-language magazine Special argued that "the stir produced by this pol- icy of omission is far greater than what was feared would result from a policy of truth." AFFECTS CABINET Critics suggest that some members of the anti-Leopold faction a quarter of a century ago now belong to the current Belgian government and any- thing they might say about the royal crisis would embar- rass the relationship of the cabinet of Socialist Prime Mi'iister Edmond Leburton with the present king, Bau- donin I The controversy which raged around Leopold for a full decade uas closely inter- twined with the ethnic con- flicts which still lurk just below the surface of Belgian life. The fact is that a majority of Belgians in Dutch-speaking Flanders favored Leopolds retention of the throne while most French-speaking Wal- loons opposed it in a March, 1950, referendum on whether he should return from exile to resume his royal duties. Over-all, there was a major- ity in Leopold's favor. His. ul- timate departure despite this, following violent demonstra- tions in Wallonia, compounded the anti-francophone resent- ments felt by the Flemish. Never had the conflict of opinions between Flanders and Wallonia been so violently evident as during the climac- tic months of the royal crisis, a prominent Flemish com- mentator wrote later. SURRENDER RESENTED L e o p o 1 d 's unpopularity among the Walloons resulted from such Second World War events as his ca- pitulation to the Nazis after a brave Belgian fight in 1940. Controversial t o o s p e- cially among the politicians- was his decision to stay with his people in Belgium after the German conquest. Walloon hostility towards the king was intensified by his 1941 marriage to a Flemish commoner, while Liberals and Socialists complained that the king's civil marriage had not preceded the religious rites, in line with Belgian practice and the strongly anti-clerical tra- dition in Wallonia. The arguments about Leo- pold after the war reached their peak with widespread Wralloon strikes in July. 1950 and the killing of three'Social- ist demonstrators near Liege. Finally, on Aug. 1. came the announcement that Baudouin son by his first wife, the popular Queen As- trid, who died in assume the throne. LIVES QUIETLY Leopold, now in his early 70s, finally withdrew to a quiet life in a castle near Brussels, indulging his scien- tific interests and frequently traveling to the tropics on re- search expeditions. He still maintains this self- effacing way of life, leaving the royal limelight to his 42- year-old son. Baudouin. once an awk- ward-looking figure in horn- rimmed glasses and seem- ingly uneasy in his father's shadow, has matured into a much more confident person- ality since hie marriage in 1960 to a member of the old Spanish nobility, Dona Fa- biola de Mora y Aragon. Queen Fabiola, two years older than the king, has the reputation of being a gracious extrovert who brought Bau- douin out of his shell She enthusiastically sup- ports children's welfare pro- jects, helping to finance them with royalties from a collec- tion of stories for youngsters which she wrote before her marriage. Fabiola enjoys great affec- tion in the country at large, all the more so since she is childless. NEPHEW IS HEIR The heir to the throne is Prince Philippe, born in 1960 to Baudouin's brother Albert and that nobleman's beautiful Italian wife Paola. Baudouin, who has never made any secret of his loyalty towards his father, often lapses into displays of infor- mal public warmth towards his wife. Holding hands or with his arm protectively around her. Baudouin and Fabiola go about most of their royal duties in a relaxed way and are photographed holidaying in Corsica or off the Spanish coast. They are known to attend mass together each morning at Laeken Palace before the king starts his daily official rounds, which usually take him the few miles into Brus- sels for various functions at the great royal palace in the heart of the capital. Though taking a conspicu- ous interest in science, the economy and technology, Bau- spectacles re- placed by contact lenses- keeps strictly to the rules of a constitutional monarchy. SHUNS INTERVIEWS Newly-arrived foreign re- porters" u ho seek an interview with him are told by veteran journalists on the Brussels beat that the king much pre- fers noting what others say to speaking out himself. Having negotiated the tight-rope challenge of main- taining the monarchy's na- tional appeal after the royal crisis of the 1940s. Baudomn operates as a strict neutral in Belgian politics. He is a model of monarchic caution, not to be drawn into public pronouncements that could possibly be construed as compromising. Moreover, there is an array of rules regulating journalistic approaches to the royal fam- ily, along with accessories like lines of majestic limou- sines, which leave no doubt that the kingshiD is a redoubt- able force, at least symboli- cally. Its significance may even go beyond this, since Bau- douin has been compared with his father in the 1930s as a monarch ready to use his con- stitutional powers during Bel- gium's regular bouts of cabi- net crisis. SETTLES DISPUTES nation accepts his in- writes Margot Lyon, a British expert on Belgium, "and (it) seems to appreciate having a permanent referee who indeed does a great deal of work in settling disputes. The position of the Belgian monarchy is a re- markable phenomenon.1 The reigning family, the Saxe-Coburgs, originated in Germany. The monarchic line began with Leopold I in 1831, the year after modern Bel- gium came into being. Leopold I was an uncle of Queen Victoria. But the Belgian royal family, despite the fortune made by Leopolds successor as the chief pioneer of Congo development later in the 19th century, is officially less wealthy than the British Windsors. Baudouin's brother, the 38- y e a r -o 1 d Prince Albert- named for Belgium's First World War hero been to Canada, among other countries, on economic mis- sions for Belgium, in line with his function as honorary board president ot the coun- try's foreign trade office Princess Paola, 35. has been causing less of a jet-set splash lately than in previous years, when her miniskirts were cel- ebrated in the gossip press of Western Europe. The have three chil- dren. Wednesday, May 16, 1973 THI IETHMIDGE HERALD 49 King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola Examine copies Charles M. (Bob) e x a m T nes reproductions while his wife Gillian checks information on artist. 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