Talk:Leopold III of Belgium

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Early Life[edit]

I'm rather sceptical that a memmerof the Royal Family would have "fought as a private in World War I, especialy as Leopold was only just 17 when it ended. Is this verified?

Title after abdication[edit]

"After his abdication, he was given the title Prince Léopold of Belgium, Duke of Brabant."

This is simply incorrect. Contrary to the Dutch queens who reverted to the title 'Princess of the Netherlands' after their abdication, Léopold retained the title of King after his abdication (just like Grand Duke Jean of Luxemburg is still known as Grand Duke Jean). That he was given the title "Duke of Brabant" is simply absurd in my opinion - this is the automatic title of the heir apparent, and, after his abdication, it was still possible that King Baudouin would have children, which would mean that there might have been more than one Duke of Brabant. Erwin 09:36, 15 Jan 2004 (UTC)

An outside review[edit]

The Flemish newspaper De Standaard did an "audit" of Wikipedia. About this article, they write the following:

The English version contains a considerable number of errors. Leopolds first wife Astrid didn't die when she drove down a ravine, but into a lake [fixed by now]; he didn't make himself unpopular by capitulating unilaterally in 1940, quite to the contrary; he didn't return to Belgium in 1945... This unbalanced little article presents Leopold as a determinded resistant, but why did he become so unpopular with his people then? Karl Stas 20:05, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
Is the Flemish or French version of this article better? Perhaps one of these could be used as a basis to improve the article? john k 20:52, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
Several of these issues seem to have been addressed since then. Are there still issues? Elphion (talk) 17:35, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Leopold and the atrocities of the Congolese[edit]

I see no mention of the horific crimes against humanity that occured in the Congo under his rule. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:18, 15 March 2007 (UTC).

Wrong Leopold, I am afraid. See Leopold II of Belgium.--Pan Gerwazy 14:40, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Political testament of Leopold III, written in January 1944[edit]

To understand why Leopold III suddenly became very impopular with part of the Belgian population, the question of the political testament must be addressed. He had called the American and British forces who were soon to invade Belgium, "les forces occupantes".

I quote from

"Leopold nam ook een redelijk negatieve houding aan tegenover de geallieerden, die hij beschreef als "les autorités occupantes".[134]"

English translation: Leopold also adopted a fairly negative attitude towards the allies, whom he described as "the occupying authorities".

For those objecting that this looks like a blog (it is actually a website about history surrounding Belgian cartoon strips), the number 134 goes to a text that gives the following books as source for this "les autorités occupantes":

Luykx (Theo) & Platel (Marc). Politieke geschiedenis van België. Antwerpen, Kluwer, 1985 (p 444)

Van den Wijngaert (Marc), Buellens (Lieve) & Brants (Dana). België en zijn koningen: monarchie en macht. Antwerpen, Houtekiet, 2000, p. 203-206 (p 143, p 206)

Kossmann (E.H.). De Lage Landen 1780-1980: twee eeuwen Nederland en België, deel 2: 1914-1980. Amsterdam / Brussel, Elsevier, 1986 (p 224)

Witte (Els). Het maatschappelijk-politieke leven in België 1945-1980. In: Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, deel 15. Haarlem, Fibula – Van Dishoeck, 1982 (p. 239)

We therefore have enough sources (and all of them secondary - I am not using the text of the testament itself), but Dutch only to ascertain the veracity of Leopold III using "occupation" rather than "liberation" - which was very controversial, both with the allied commanders and with politicians who knew about it. In fact, contrary to Leopold's wishes, the testament was not made public immediately after the allies took control of Belgium, since both the "occupying" force and the main Belgian political parties feared it would greatly benefit the communists.

Now, I am not adding this source in yet, because I am still looking for an English version. According to Google, there is something on JSTORE. (you can help!) --Pan Gerwazy 09:26, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

At this moment, google (no cache in this case, however) gives "Repeat Performance: A Psychohistorical Study of Leopold III and Belgian Neutrality" by Rudolph Binion as a source for the text "His political testament was provocatively imperious in tone as well as contents:" . The link is to JSTOR. I have since noticed that another reason why the allies (particularly the Americans) were not very happy with the testament was that it repudiated all treaties concluded between the Belgian government in London and the Allied governments. Particularly the economic treaty about delivering Congolese uranium to the US!
Google books:
  • [1] French, does not mention WHY it was controversial.
  • [2] in English, again no mention of the exact reason
A nice little text about the testament, but not mentioning why it was objectionable to the allies, in French: [3] We must be careful about this one, the author seems POV in favour of Leopold III's second wife. (which actually means that it double checks some of the points made above)
Also politically suspect (Walloon nationalist), but quoting two normal historians:
[4] "Velaers et van Goethem ontraison de montrer que le roi, pendant toute la guerre, est vraiment resté totalement neutre (comme son père), envisageant froidement la victoire de l’un ou l’autre camp avec une sorte d’indifférence, traitant les Anglo-saxons dans son Testament Politique comme une autre sorte d’occupants, sans plus." No comment. --Pan Gerwazy 13:50, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

General tone of the article+sources[edit]

Baically, this article is too apolegetic of Leopold: it does not mention his personal visits to Hitler, it does not mention the row his wife had with Baldwin and Fabiola over furniture, paintings and memorabilia he took with him whe abdicating. On the other hand, it makes the extraordinary claim that Leopold tried to rule Belgium after the surrender to the Germans, and there is not a shred of evidence that he ever tried that: he considered himself a prisoner who as a result could not act as King. It is true that he consulted advisors when one minister who had been unable to reach unoccupied France, returned to Belgium. Since all the King's actions have to be "covered" by a minister, he could constitutionally have taken over, but the advisors ruled against it, because he had given himself up as prisoner. The minister later escaped to Britain. It is true that prisoners of war do not normally marry, but that is a different story. Leopold having no power after the surrender also means that it is rather silly to cleim he saved the lives of many Belgians by remaining in the country. In fact, the surrender itself probably saved a lot of lives, but afterwards, any difference with other occupied countries was caused by the fact that the nazis installed a military government, and not a civil one. ostensibly, that may have been because the Head of State was still in the country, but most probably it was because HItler did not how to dela with the three main collaborationists sides: unitarist Henri De Man, the VNV and the French-speaking fascists under Leon Degrelle. In fact, the whole thing is badly sourced or unsourced except for some of the criticism added later. That is not a good thing.--Pan Gerwazy 08:55, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree. It does not read encyclopaedic. Jooler 01:14, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Leopold III made himself particularly unpopular with those with an established interest in the Congo by being outspoken on the subject of his country's brutal colonial past. Anyone interested in Leopold and his historical impact should read "Outrageous Fortune" by Roger Keyes, son of the Royal Navy admiral who liaised with the King during during the Blitzkrieg up unti the evacuation at Dunkirk. It offers a lot of incites conveniently buried by the allies in the post-war years.

--User:vachementchien 17:35, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

This article differs considerably from the account of the Belgian army and King Leopold depicted in William L. Shirer's highly-researched book The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940. I would recommend that anyone seeking to dispute the attempt to whitewash the King and the actions of the army read that book. I won't go into detail here on the battles within Belgium, but Shirer details how the Belgium army command refused to cooperate with the Franco-British alliance even after Belgium was under attack by the Germans. Most of the Belgium army's actions were taken without even informing the French and British, including its surrender. For example, according to Shirer, as the Germans attacked through the Ardennes, the Belgium army began to pull back and destroy bridges on a timetable established by higher Belgium command, without the knowledge of or notifying the French army, even though the French needed those bridges for their operations. The Belgium army destroyed the bridges without even waiting for the Germans to get close. The withdrawal of the Belgium army without notification to the French exposed the flanks of the French 9th Army and helped lead to its destruction. Leopold III is lucky the Allies didn't try him as a traitor after WW II. Thomas R. Fasulo (talk) 15:06, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

I think so about the Battle of Dunkirk but not about the beginning of the war (in the Ardennes. There are also Belgian (Frenchspeaking) sources about that and what is more from an author who was (nehertheless), in favour of Lepold III. I can help for that. I already wrote about it. José Fontaine (talk) 22:28, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It's important to recall that he was King of the Belgians, a neutral country, and wanted to preserve the illusion of neutrality in 1944; a mistake of emphasis, perhaps, but the Allies were about to occupy his country with their forces. What doesn't come across in the article is that surrendering in person in 1940 meant that his country would be run by the German army and not by the SS. Contrast with Holland where tens of thousands died under Reichskommissariat Niederlande; Belgium lost several hundred. That was practical patriotism even if it didn't suit Churchill in 1940. Keyes is still the best English-language source on the surrender. (talk) 23:10, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Terrible grammar[edit]

This article has so many grammatical errors that I question the overall qualifications of whoever authored the bulk of it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:17, 21 November 2008

I think the informations are absolutely fiable, but am not a native locutor. Is it possible to correct the grammar? José Fontaine (talk) 09:25, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I think a lot of the article was at least partly machine translated. I fixed the worst section (WW2 etc) but some parts could probably use more work. TastyCakes (talk) 17:39, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
No, as far as I am concerned, I didn't use machine. I need help.José Fontaine (talk) 00:18, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Hi, José. I saw you trying to get the article less POV, thank you for your work. I wanted to copy edit to correct the grammar and to make the text less "Simple English" (do not take this personally, I have myself worked at wikis in other languages and I know how frustrating it can be when people tell you that your text does not look "encyclopaedic"). However I almost ran into a major problem: several things you write about the political testament are also in the chapter I inserted about it. Any idea how to proceed? Do we remove your text to the earlier chapter or do we reconstruct the time line? --Paul Pieniezny (talk) 16:24, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I understand what you mean: I am thinking of a proposal, I 'll write it on this talk page. You are civil about my simple English : thank you very much! I have other ideas about this topic. I 'll write also them here. Hartelijk! José Fontaine (talk) 17:24, 28 November 2008 (UTC)


I propose to place the following sentences under the section ////its content//// and to erase the words///and Belgian//// in the title of the following section. It is possible to place also in the title (its content): ////and the reaction of the Belgian government//// or to make a new section. But we must add other informations.

/////////When the Belgian Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot and the Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak red this testament (a few day after the Liberation when they just came back to Brussels), on 9 september 1944, they thought that such a king would never been allowed (and able) to reign. The two Ministers made many efforts during the war in order to find a good agreement with Leopold III. The own son-in-law of Pierlot was sent in january 1944 to the King with an important letter of the Belgian Government (which was in exile in London). The attempt didn't succeed but the Belgian Government didn't know it immediately. The son-in-law of Pierlot was killed by the Germans. It is after this last attempt of a reconciliation that the Belgian king wrote his Political Testament. So Pierlot and Spaak in september 1944 were absolutely astonished and very angry of having been so terribly deceived by their king. But firstly, following, André de Staercke the Regent's Secretary Prince Charles (the same rank as a King's Secretary because the Regent had in this period the same rank as the King, beeing Head of State), they were dismayd "in front of so much blindness and awareness" [1]The reaction of Winston Churchill about the Testament was: "It stinks."[2] or, following an other version, a sentence inspired by a quote of Talleyrand about the Bourbons after the restauration of the monarchy in France in 1815: "He is like the Bourbons, he has nothing learned and everything forgotten."[3]/////////////

I think that the following sentence is not exact. In any case, it is not only by fear of a communist upsurge that the Belgian government did not publish the Testament (an upsurge when Belgium had so many American and British soldiers on its territory? Yes it was not absolutely impossible... De Gaulle also was afraid by a communist upsurge) but perhaps mainly because of the political mistake of such a text. They were not against the monarchy...

//////////As for the political testament, the Belgian government did not publish it (partly for fear of an upsurge in communist support if they did) and preferred to ignore it./////////////

We ought to speak about the communist (but also trade unions etc.)...

What do you think? Hartelijk,

José Fontaine (talk) 18:07, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

I completed a somewhat swift and bold copy edit, though I had a difficult time interpreting your meaning and intent in a few locations. I broke long paragraphs into shorter chunks and fixed up some English as best I could. When you say the King wanted two things of Hitler, I could not determine exactly what these were: reassurance as to Belgium's independence and a public statement confirming it? Seems like this would have been somewhat anticlimatic, considering Germany had already occupied Belgium. -- btphelps (talk) (contribs) 19:53, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, reassurance as to Belgium's independence and a public statement confirming : reassurance of (a kind of) Belgian independance in a future German Europa. In a sense that was also the political goal of the French Government of Vichy... But I understand it is a little astonishing for us. But not in this period (end 1940). Thank you very much! José Fontaine (talk) 20:24, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
Can you clarify the meaning here: "In refusing to publish the statement, 'The [German] Chancellor saved the King two times.' " How did Hitler save the King's life two times by not meeting his demands? Also, if the testament was only to be published upon the eventually he was not in Belgium upon its liberation, how did it come to be be public beforehand? -- btphelps (talk) (contribs) 06:21, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Made a few more style improvements and tried to clarify the nature of the crisis when he chose to remain in Belgium. Please see if I got it right. -- btphelps (talk) (contribs) 19:52, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
I reply firstly to your first question. In refusing this reassurance and to make it public, Stengers said that Hitler saved the King (on the political plan) because an agreement with Hitler (even secret), and what is more, public, would have included Leopold III into the people who clearly an politically collaborate (les collaborateurs) with Germany and with the Nazis and it would have been impossible to hide it in 1945 and after as Leopold III try to hide the simple fact he met Hitler (and many things else but it is an other thing). I don't agree with the sentences writing that the king refused to have a political role. He said that, yes and that was partly true. But to meet Hitler what does that mean if not a political role? Thak you. Your questions are very relevant. José Fontaine (talk) 20:05, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Everything is OK but we must change some parts of the content. For instance: King Leopold III had projects to change the Belgian Constitution, to have a free zone as Pétain in France, gave the order to all the Belgian ambassadors to be civil towards the German amnbassadors (in the foreign capitals because, following the King, of the end of the war between Belgium and Germany), was against the fact that the Belgian Congo reach the war (but it did it in August or september 1940 : a visit of de Gaulle was possible in Léopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo) , had a great influence on the high civil servants who (legally and on the order of the Belgian government before the invasion) took the place of the Belgian government in the daily administration of Belgium (for instance when a new general became the chief of the gendarmerie),encourage via his advisors some papers (Le Soir, Le Nouveau Journal), which were in favour of the New Order (l' Ordre Nouveau the concept at the base of the fascist ideology), manifest his sympathy at the death of an Italian general belonging to the Italian Royals who was engaged against Belgian and British soldiers in Ethiopia etc. I must make proposals about that and with the source of all of them. The way the king was politically activ was not public, that's right, but in general the way a constitutionnal king is politically activ is always secret or at less not-public and everything he makes is covered by his minister who are responsible of it (the same thing as in UK). I think it is hard to write these last words about the way the king is activ (it is my own statement and we are not allowed to make an original work but it is in order to make the whole things comprehensible ) José Fontaine (talk) 09:28, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I can see you have many ideas for things you would like to add. I am unable to research the topic, though I did read some of the content on The Royal Articles to try to get a better understanding of some context. It would appear in your effort to write about this topic in English, which does not appear to be your native language, that you have accidentally introduced style issues.
You appear to be very enthusiastic about the king, and this creates neutrality issues, in that your point of view appears to be strongly supportive of the king. This is difficult because he was a controversial figure in his time and both sides need to be fairly represented. May I suggest that you first work at improving what is there so the style and neutrality boxes at the top can be removed? That ought to be the first order of business in terms of improving the quality of the article. -- btphelps (talk) (contribs) 17:23, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Prosecution, United Europa[edit]

Dear, Btphelps. I begg your pardon but I am absolutely sure a prosecution against the king is absolutely impossible (within the framework of the Belgian constitution), so I removed this part of the sentence. That seems very strange but it is possible to explain that, even in a democracy. It is possible to explain USA has a more democratic view with the impeachment of the President but many things ought to be said in order to explain it correctly. For this sentence //// Hitler's vision of a united Europe did not include independent countries within its borders////, I am not sure too, but not so absolutely: Hitler had likely no clear view about Europa in its German future. It is the reason why Hitler didn't publish and didn't make reassurance. Hitler saved the king politically for the period when Belgium would be liberated from he Nazis. Thank you, and my pardon... I am anxious when there is an error... José Fontaine (talk) 20:17, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

That's fine, I'm sure you are more familiar with the situation and politics better than I. I was under the impression that treasonous acts invoked serious consequences, perhaps you know what they would be for the king. Make any corrections you see fit. --btphelps (talk) (contribs)


"King Leopold died ........He is interred next to Queen Astrid in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady in Laeken. The princesse de Réthy is buried in the churchyard. That's not what is says here - which is correct? Giano (talk) 21:54, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Neutrality flag[edit]

The template for the POV flag refers to the talk page, but I'm not sure which of the sections above addresses it, or whether the objections have been met in the many edits since 2008. I've just reorganized the article, pulled together descriptions of the same events from different areas of the article, and tried to to represent all opinions represented in the text. I also discarded several details that don't seem relevant (like the relative standing of the King's secretary vis à vis the Regent's secretary). So I invite your response: do we still have neutrality problems, and if so, what are they? Elphion (talk) 17:35, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

There being no response in nearly a year, I've removed the POF flag. -- Elphion (talk) 19:01, 1 September 2010 (UTC)


Recent edits identify the king as an "out-spoken antisemite" -- I've reverted these since they were unsourced. Leopold's attitude toward Jews is certainly an important and valid topic to include, but it needs to be done carefully and responsibly. -- Elphion (talk) 15:10, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Looking more carefully, I see that did try to include a reference to -- but this blog is not exactly an unbiased source (or is at least of dubious authority), and no sources are given there for either the quote attributed to Leopold or evidence of his being an out-spoken antisemite. Given the Belgian penchant for destroying embarrassing records, I can imagine that the charges are indeed true, but this requires something more substantial than a drive-by blog shooting. -- Elphion (talk) 15:31, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Duration of reign[edit]

I've raised this elsewhere, but just to state this again ~

Leopold was declared incompetent to reign by the Belgian government on 28 May 1940. He was re-instated in March 1950, but was emphatically not king in the intervening period. I've put a (highly respectable) legal source for this, but I'd also point out that the volume of the well-known "Nouvelle Histoire de Belgique" series that deals with the period is entitled "Belgium without a King, 1940-1950"...Brigade Piron (talk) 20:39, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

The installment of a Regency, for whatever reason, does not imply that the King stops being King. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 08:55, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, Leopold III was the King - in the Belgian constitutional sense - until his formal abdication in 1951. The fact he was a prisoner from the Belgian capitulation in May 1940 on, nor the fact that his younger brother was appointed Regent in 1944, changes that. The edit by Piron is manifestly constitutionally wrong. I stake my Belgian law degree on that. -- fdewaele, 18 September 2013, 11:42 CET.
Yes. That's a given. Whoever is King is just that. Even if his authority has been taken away from him. Perhaps the fact that his authority was taken away from him creates this misunderstanding. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 19:44, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

Well, aside from the source already cited, I quote this from p.19 of "La Belgique Sans Roi, 1940-1950" (Van den Wijngaert & Dujardin) [my translation from French]:

Anyone care to provide any countering source? Brigade Piron (talk) 21:04, 19 September 2013 (UTC)
The idea that Belgium was "without king" is a manner of speech. In a certain sense Belgium was without king, because the King could not fulfill his duties. But to interpret that to mean there was no King anymore is a stretch. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 10:06, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't doubt that de facto, Leopold remained king in the eyes of Belgian citizens but, if you look at the Article 82 of the Constitution of 1831:
"Si le Roi se trouve dans l'impossibilité de régner, les ministres, après avoir fait constater cette impossibilité, convoquent immédiatement les chambres. Il est pourvu à la tutelle et à la régence par les chambres reunites."
My reading of this - and I am not a lawyer - is that an de jure regency existed from 1940, but without an actual regent (until 1944)...Brigade Piron (talk) 12:12, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I do have a Belgian law degree and you're partly misinterpreting the tenet of that article. Article 82 of the Consitution (now Article 93) handles the situation where the King is unable to function as King ("onmogenlijkheid verkeert te regeren"). During his captivity and from 1944-1950, Leopold III was indeed unable to function, but that didn't mean he ceased to be the King during that decennium nor that those years are not to be included in the total duration of his reign. This is confirmed by the Cour de Cassation in 1944 which stated that the ministers in council from 1940 until the appointment of the Regent, merely held the constitutional power of the King in his absence. I think you are confusing the word "reign" (as in a time period) with the verb "to reign". An analogy is Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands: she was still a minor when her father Willem III died, but the years where her mother Emma was regent (1890–1898) are included in the period of Wilhelmina's reign, as listed in her infobox. As the practice with Wilhelmina, the infobox for Leopold should include a duration of his reign from 1934 to 1951, with the 3 different regency periods (council of ministers 1940-1944, Regent Prince Charles 1944-1950, and Royal Prince 1950-1951) beneath it. -- fdewaele, 20 September 2013, 16:14 CET.
As I understand, between 1940 and 1944 the ministers in London acted as Regents, although basically the constitutional requirements weren't followed because the Chambers couldn't convene, so the whole procedure was stuck in the middle until 1944. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 12:51, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Correct, the Cour de Cassation literally confirmed that in her rulings of 11 December 1944 and 18 October 1949. The Court stated that from the day of the King's captivity meant he was in a state of being unable to rule, untill the day when the Liberation meant the Chambers of Parliament could be convened to appoint a Regent, the ministers in council by logical appliance of the Constitution exerted the Constituional and Legislative powers of the King in order to enact all measures necessary to defend the territory and to take all measures necessary to defend the interests of the Nation. -- fdewaele, 20 September 2013, 16:14 CET.

I have reverted the change made to the infobox. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 14:36, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

As I said above, the infobox should be changed to include a list with the various regencies, just like is done with other Monarchs who have a regency period. Methinks it doesn't suffice to just state his reign was from 1934 to 1951. -- fdewaele, 20 September 2013, 18:28 CET.
    • ^ French ils étaient dominés par la consternation devant tant d'aveuglement et d'inconscience André de Staercke, Tout cela a passé comme une ombre, Mémoires sur la Régence et la Question royale, opus citatus p. 75.
    • ^ Jean Stengers, Léopold III et le gouvernement, opus citatus, p. 176
    • ^ Jean Stengers, ibidem