Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Soldier King

Britain's Stamp Magazine features an interesting article about King Albert I shown here wearing a tin hat instead of a crown.

Author Adrian Keppel writes, "Of the many definitive sets issued during the 25-year reign of Belgium’s King Albert I, one stands out – not for its longevity (around three years) or its complexity (14 values, with few varieties), but because of its symbolism."

Adrian goes on to say...
"The new definitive set introduced on July 19, 1919, was striking in depicting the King as a soldier, in field uniform with a tin hat on. Flanking the image were the poignant dates, ‘1914’ and ‘1918’, completing a simple design that was a tribute to Belgian defiance, and specifically to the monarch’s participation in the war effort.
"When Germany demanded passage through Belgium in order to outflank France in 1914, Albert refused. He was famously quoted as having said: ‘I rule a nation, not a road!’ His resistance was futile however, as the Germans invaded Belgium anyway, in a move which was to drag Britain into the war as a guarantor of Belgian neutrality. Albert took personal command of the army. Although it was driven back to a tiny strip of Belgian soil near the coast, for the next four years he continued to lead his soldiers in the trenches.
"Throughout this period, the Germans occupied and ravaged most of Belgium. But in 1918 Albert led the final offensive that was to free Belgium, and the royal family received a heroes’ welcome when they returned to Brussels on November 22, 1918."
The design by J de Bast, engraved by H Cheffer, was printed in the Netherlands by Enschedé, because war-ravaged Belgium was not yet capable of producing its own stamps according to the article.

To read the entire piece, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM