Wednesday isn’t exactly when We’d typically pull the trigger on the starting pistol for one of Our famous theme weeks. Upon learning of King Albert’s abdication We exclaimed to ourselves, “Egad! We’ve never had a Belgian Tiara Time!” Not that We have anything against the loquacious low country*, Your Blog Hostess has Belgian blood in that shaken-not-stirred nationality cocktail she’s got ebbing through her veins. (It’s always happy hour in my circulatory system!)
The sad fact is Belgium’s tiara collection is scant (at best). No, it’s not as if they’ve been free-wheeling with their headgear, throwing it around like candy on a parade float. Many of the tiaras have simply left the country due to marriage, others sold off. Perhaps the most prominent reason being that the Belgian Monarchy is a kindergartener compared to other royal families in Europe.
the 10-step, power-nap version of Belgian History
- Little unity in “the Low Countries” between the break-up of the Carolingian Empire and the rise of the Burgundian dominions.
- Of the lands divided betwixt Charlemagne’s heirs the current countries of Holland and Belgium were part of the non-viable ‘Middle Kingdom’ set up for Lothair.
- More stable nations like Germany and France both had a keen eye to annex this Middle Kingdom which (ironically) sat between the two. (This was a centuries-long temptation.)
- The lands were consolidated by the Burgundian Dukes. A cultural evolution and economic prosperity ensues.
- These Burgundian Territories were passed to the Hapsburgs. In 1713, the Spanish gave their southern territories to Austria.
- 1792: French revolutionaries took the “Austrian Netherlands” for France.
- Napoleon overthrown at Waterloo (that’s on Belgian soil, folks!)
- 1815: Belgium and Holland are joined as one under the rule of William I of Orange. The amalgamation didn’t work out so well. Too many differences in tradition, religion, language and “sentiment.”
- 1830: Belgian uprising caused separation and the Great Powers met in London to “regularize” the situation. This apparently means finding a noble Germany and installing him as king, creating a monarchy. (The same tactic was used upon installing the royal family of Greece.)
- The Great Powers congress selected Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Know to history as King Leopold I of Belgium. Since 1831, Belgium has had only six kings. (See slide show above.)
Huh, that was a long way to explain the lack of Belgian Tiaras. Hopefully you’ve inadvertently learned something in the process. Aside from Belgium’s boisterous youth, the royal family has no foundation to ensure the crown jewels stay in the family. (Think how smart Sweden is to have done so. Their tiara collection–oh baby! Your Blog Hostess gets weak in the knees just thinking about the Bernadotte Foundation.) But We digress–AGAIN!
Having said all that, the Belgian royal family only owns 4 tiaras and has one on what appears to be permanent loan. Three of the five have incredibly misleading names and two were wedding gifts. Is that a justifiable amount of tiaras for a monarchy that’s only 182 years old? It’s not really Our place to say; Belgium has five more tiaras than We do.
*In case you wonder why We chose the word loquacious, Belgium is bilingual with Flemish and French as their official languages. However, most Belgians speak at least 4!
- Tiara Time: Baby Cambridge’s First Tiara (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)
- Tiara Time! the difference between a Tiara and a Diadem (really!) (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)