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From The First Post, 1 August 2008

 

It is of no strategic value to anyone, and should no longer be sustained artificially

To paraphrase Rene Magritte, one of the few unquestionably famous Belgians, 'Ceci n'est pas une nation'. As the slow dissolution of their state continues, even Francophone Belgians, hitherto champions of the status quo, are casting around for alternatives. A poll in Le Soir suggests that 49 per cent of Walloons favour incorporation into France, up from 22 per cent at the end of last year.

The Flemish, for their part, tend to see Belgium as a mechanism for taking their taxes and subsidising the Walloons. (They are wrong: it is a mechanism for taking their taxes and subsidising the most bloated public sector in Europe. Ordinary Walloons do just as badly out of the racket as they do.)

Why am I troubling you with news from Belgium? Three reasons. First, to quote an unintentionally hilarious line from Harold Evans's memoir of his days

as editor of the Times, "It's been too long since we had an opinion piece on Belgium".

Second, because Belgium was largely our fault. Determined to prevent the Channel ports falling under the control of a hostile power, we underwrote the new state, placed Queen Victoria's uncle on its throne as Leopold I, and guaranteed it militarily. Not that Leopold's heirs were especially appreciative. During the First World War, Albert I offered to switch sides if the Germans would confirm him in his throne and pay reparations. (When you bear in mind why Britain had gone to war in the first place, this possibly ranks as the most ungrateful act in human history.) Belgium has long since ceased to be of strategic value to us, and we should no longer sustain it artificially.

But the third reason is the most important. Belgium functions – or malfunctions – on the same basis as the EU. There is no Belgian language, no Belgian culture, precious little Belgian history. If Belgium cannot work as a multi-national state, what hope is there for the EU?

Peter

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Hadn't heard that story about Albert I before. Even if it's true, Austria's lack of support for Russia in the Crimean War not long after Nicholas I had saved Austria's bacon by crushing a Hungarian uprising probably tops it. There's a quote from the time, by some senior Austrian minister who had been asked whether Austria was not now over-obligated to Russia, "Austria will astonish the world with the magnitude of her ingratitude." Just about sums it up. There's another quote, might have been from the same person, appealed to for mercy for the Hungarian leaders: "Yes, yes. But first, we will have a little hanging."

As for what is Belgium for, that is for Belgians to say. I hope it will survive as a nation, despite all the jokes it has seemed a pleasant enough place to me on my numerous visits, and of course if the country doesn't survive the monarchy won't either. It does have a character distinct from both France and the Netherlands, I don't see why its people would wish to be submerged in those other nations.
BaronVonServers

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Drowned in the French Republic # 3?

What a horrid fate!


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Originally Posted by BaronVonServers
Drowned in the French Republic # 3?

 
The French are in their Fifth Republic!
BaronVonServers

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Frenchmen -
Do they not EVER learn?





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Pragmatist

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One thing that bothers me about Belgium is that it is a popular monarchy. King of the Belgians (a non-existant ethnicity). It doesn't make much sense.

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BaronVonServers

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Oh, give it a few hundred years of existance as a unified Kingdom, and there will be such....

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Peter

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Here's an idea. Southern Belgium is merged into France, and Albert II moves to Paris to become Albert I, King of the French. Thereby causing poor CT to burst a blood vessel, maybe it wasn't such a good idea.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter

Here's an idea. Southern Belgium is merged into France, and Albert II moves to Paris to become Albert I, King of the French. Thereby causing poor CT to burst a blood vessel, maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

 
A Saxe-Coburg King of France?! I might burst a blood vessel!
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He's a great-great-great-grandson of Louis Philippe I, what's your problem? OK, maybe the suggestion was a little tongue in cheek.

As an afterthought, he also has Beauharnais and Bernadotte blood, the former from both mother and father. That's three French royal houses! Still not persuaded? Didn't think you would be.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter

He's a great-great-great-grandson of Louis Philippe I, what's your problem? OK, maybe the suggestion was a little tongue in cheek.

 
Peter

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OK, I'm told off and feel suitably contrite. If anyone's wondering, which I'm sure they weren't, which was the last actual King of France Albert II descends from the answer is Louis XV. His daughter married Philip, Duke of Parma, and theirs Carlos IV of Spain. A daughter of that marriage was the Queen of João VI of Portugal, and their son Miguel, sometime King of Portugal, was the father of the second wife of Karl Theodor, Duke in Bavaria. Here we at last reach Belgium, as their daughter Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria married King Albert I and was the grandmother of Albert II. Not bad from memory, if I do say so myself.

BaronVonServers

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I'd have need three cross-referencing books for that....

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Peter

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It's all cladistics, like I said once before. Easy really. I just had another afterthought, what if Albert II's full names included Louis? Alas no, Albert Félix Humbert Théodore Christian Eugène Marie. I suppose I don't need to explain my mischievous thought.

Peter

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Just lifting this thread up, not to annoy our new Belgian friend with the thread title, but I hope to entertain him.

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