Leopold III of Belgium

King of the Belgians from 1934 to 1951

Leopold III (3 November 1901 – 25 September 1983) was King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951. On the outbreak of World War II, Leopold tried to maintain Belgian neutrality, but after the German invasion in May 1940, he surrendered his country, earning him much hostility, both at home and abroad.

King Leopold III of Belgium
Leopold III on May 18, 1940 with Minister of National Defense General Denis


  • The Parliament's acceptance of such measures would enable me to temporarily entrust the exercise of my pregoratives to the Crown Prince and, in agreement with the Government, to end this task when I consider that the interests of the country are also served.
    • Histories: De Nacht van Laken (1997 Documentary about the Royal Question) Speech was given by Leopold III on April 15, 195,0 in the context of a national referendum that was held on March 12, 1950, and that would determine the outcome of the future of his kingship. (Leopold III was accused to have been collaborating with the Germans and more in particular Adolf Hitler in World War II)
  • On July 31, 1950, I accepted to hand over the royal powers to my son. It was my will to renounce the throne for good as soon as it turned out that all Belgians would have united themselves around Prince Baudouin. I now establish that this unanimity has been achieved. The last words I wish to say as king of the Belgians will strongly indicate that the future of the fatherland depends on your national solidarity, I swear to agree to you, God protect Belgium and our Congo.
    • Histories: De Nacht van Laken (1997 Documentary about the Royal Question) Speech was given by Leopold III on July 16, 1951, on the day of his abdication.
  • In view of the rapid changes taking place in the world today, it seemed to me desirable to preserve in picture and sound some reflection of the surviving vestiges of the ancient life of the Congo, there is a communion between the man of the forest and his natural surroundings which inspires us in a sense of respect a recognition of spiritual heritage, I thank all those who have helped me to achieve this task which combines beauty and scientific truth.
    • Masters of the Congo Jungle. (1958 Documentary showing the struggles of the inhabitants of the Belgian Congo.)


  • That was the prospect a week ago. But another blow which might well have proved final was yet to fall upon us. The King of the Belgians had called upon us to come to his aid. Had not this Ruler and his Government severed themselves from the Allies, who rescued their country from extinction in the late war, and had they not sought refuge in what was proved to be a fatal neutrality, the French and British Armies might well at the outset have saved not only Belgium but perhaps even Poland. Yet at the last moment, when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave, efficient Army, nearly half a million strong, guarded our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, without the advice of his Ministers and upon his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his Army, and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.
  • The surrender of the Belgian Army compelled the British at the shortest notice to cover a flank to the sea more than 30 miles in length. Otherwise all would have been cut off, and all would have shared the fate to which King Leopold had condemned the finest Army his country had ever formed.

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