Not too many people outside Belgium remember King Albert the First, but they should, because he was a man of honour and a great king.
When in August, 1914, the Germans told him they were going to march their armies through his country on the way to stabbing France in the back, he told the Kaiser where to get off. What followed was five years of torture, with just about every major Power in the world trying their best to kick the German army back across the Rhine. Albert must have wondered more than a few times if he had done the right thing, but what else could he have done? You can't have powerful neighbours marching troops onto your territory whenever they choose. (Are you listening Mr. Putin?)
Anyway ... I guess you're wondering about the Belgian queen - Elisabeth by name - and her embarrassment.
Well, Albert and Elisabeth were married in Munich. Germany, on 2nd of October, 1900. They married there because she was a Bavarian Duchess and a princess of Wittelsbach who had been born at Possenhofen Castle. She and Albert were very much in love, and nobody at that wedding could have imagined that fourteen years later German troops (including Bavarian regiments) would be marching through Belgium, committing atrocities of the worst kind.
But if anyone thought Elisabeth might have harboured divided loyalties, they were made to think again. "Once a Belgian," she said, "always a Belgian."
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