L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, January 5, 2018

Louise, Queen of the Belgians - two miniatures by Sir William Ross.

Louise d'Orléans (Louise-Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle; 3 April 1812, Palermo – 11 October 1850, Ostend), French princess and first Queen of the Belgians as the second wife of King Léopold I. The eldest daughter of the future Louis-Philippe I, King of the French and his wife Marie-Amélie de Bourbon-Siciles, she married the King of the Belgians at the Château de Compiègne in 1832; she was twenty, he was twenty-two years her senior. Since Léopold was a Protestant, there were two wedding ceremonies, Catholic and Calvinist.

1840. This is actually a reduced copy by Magdalena Ross, younger sister of Sir William, made for Queen Victoria.

Léopold's first wife, Princess Charlotte of Wales, had died in 1817 from complications a day after the birth of a stillborn son; he was said to have never quite recovered from the loss. Although never faithful to his second wife, Léopold respected her and the marriage was a harmonious one. Louise was of a shy nature and was never comfortable in her public role, but she was popular with the Belgian court due to her kindness and generosity.

Engraving of Ross' three-quarter length miniature, the Queen posed in the garden at Laeken. I believe the original is now in a private collection.

Léopold was the uncle to both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - who were, of course, first cousins - and the Belgian couple was very close to their British relations. Louise's family was as well; Queen Victoria was welcoming and most supportive when, after the revolution of 1848, the Orléans royals fled to England.


The royal couple had four children, including the infamous King Léopold II, the scourge of the Congo, and the tragic Charlotte, known to history as Empress Carlota of Mexico. Queen Louise died of tuberculosis at Ostend at the age of only thirty-eight.


The Death of Queen Louise-Marie, by Jozef Meganck, circa 1850.

Her final letter to her husband, written not long before her death:

Dear, dear friend,

This will shall be given to you when I shall be no longer, when my heart, this heart which will never have beaten except for you, shall have ceased to beat, when my eyes, which so loved to contemplate you, will have been closed by death, and my soul alone shall be able to watch over you, when, finally, I shall have no more hope of seeing you again, except in that unknown world, the object of your concerns and your wishes, where, I hope, God will grant us the grace of being eternally reunited. May you find, in the expression of my last wishes, and be able to guess, beyond words, a meagre part of the affection and the gratitude I feel towards you, and which no human language will ever be able to express. May God take charge of the debt of my gratitude and thank you for your kindness towards me, by blessing you and protecting you in all things as my heart desires and as I ask Him without ceasing. May you be happy that I have been happy because of you and close to you. May you be loved, appreciated, cherished, admired, I was almost going to say adored, by many, as you have been by me. May your children be always for you a source of joy and consolation. May your death be sweet like that of the just man and your last moments made beautiful by the memory of all the good you have done to me and to others. May you, in eternity, enjoy that immaterial happiness, without limits, for which your soul, more than any other, was created, and may I be able to serve you, you and those you have loved, or, at least, see you from afar in that blessed eternity and have the certitude of your happiness, even without sharing it. These, dear friend, are my last and dearest wishes, for there is not a beat of my heart nor a thought of my soul which is not yours and for you. My affection for you, that affection which was, I can say, the life of my life, the motive and the essence of my existence here below, must also, I sense, be immortal, like the soul God gave me to adore Him, to serve Him, to pray Him and to appreciate His benefits and must, like it, survive this body of mud. Whatever the moment when almighty God may call me to Him, and whatever anguish, which only the thought of being separated from you may cause me to feel, I can only bless His name, adore His decrees, submit myself to them and thank Him for the happiness, so great and so little made for this earth, which He granted me by uniting me to you. And whether my life is long or short, I will always have lived long enough if I was at all good for you, even if only for an instant. 

The tomb of Léopold and Louise in the royal crypt which is situated in the church of Notre-Dame de Laeken.
The church, near the royal family's official residence outside of Brussles, the Château de Laeken, was built in memory of Queen Louise.


  1. I remember reading the story of how the very young Princess Victoria came to visit her Uncle Leopold's rather gloomy court. Energetic, chattering and laughing, the young princess livened up the palace, but poor Queen Louise realized, to her shock, that she had forgotten how to laugh.

  2. What do you mean never faithful? Don't buy the nonsense from Corti, etc and all those writers who repeat the same unsourced information and conjecture.