Albert I killed 75 years ago in climbing accident

18th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

To mark the 75th anniversary of his death mass was held in Our Lady's Chapel in Laken (Brussels).

On 17 February 1934 King Albert I was killed in a climbing accident in March-les-Dames (in the Ardennes), near the city of Namur.

75 years ago, on 17 February 1934, King Albert I was found dead underneath a cliff in March-les-Dame.

The King was an avid climber and often went to climb in the rocky areas along the River Maas to prepare for more rugged climbs in the Alps. Because he was a very experienced climber some believe that he was murdered.  The rumours are still alive today.

Albert I was King for 25 years. He ascended the throne after the death of his uncle, Leopold II, in 1909. Albert was third in line for his uncle's throne but Leopold's son had died and then another nephew. This left Albert to reign at 16 years old.

Though some believe that he was murdered, but no real evidence of foul play has ever come to light.

Some say he was murdered by the French secret service because during World War I Belgium was a neutral state. Others thought he might have been killed in a jealous lovers' quarrel, or may have even committed suicide.

No autopsy was ever performed on the dead King, and the place of death was not filled in on his death certificate.

Albert I was married to the Duchess of Bavaria, Elizabeth. They had three children: Leopold, who later became the fourth King of the Belgians as Leopold III, Charles-Theodore, and Marie-José.

Albert and his wife and family were well-liked as a royal family. They had a simple, unassuming lifestyle and happy family life.

Belgium was neutral during WWI

Belgium was a neutral country during the war. Even though Albert was aware of the German invasion plans he always maintained that Belgium's neutrality prevented the country from arming itself. But once the war had begun, according to various sources, he led the Belgians in delaying actions against the Germans (the Belgian constitution said the King would become Commander-in-Chief in case of war).

The King declined to cooperate with the allies and maintained separate command of the Belgian forces. In 1918 Albert finally gave into pressure and cooperated with the allies in the final offensive of 1918, being made commander of the Flanders Army Group by General Foch of France.

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