Engagement of Leopold (III) and Astrid
I just read that Queen Elisabeth and King Albert I initially weren´t pleased with Astrid as a wife for their son Leopold. Elisabeth preferred a catholic princess from southern Europe and Albert I didn´t like the idea to have a daughter in law that was protestant.
Albert only gave in when Astrid promissed to convert (which she only did 4 years after her marriage). Does anybody know what princesses Elisabeth preferred for her son?
Queen Elisabeth had in mind one of the princesses of Italy. But Leopold wasn't attracted to any of them. The choice at that point was limited as well: not a lot of Catholic royal families left or there were no single girls anymore... She also didn't want her son to marry someone they had close family bonds with and German royal families were out of the question so shortly after the war. So they went up north to the Scandinavian countries. Leopold met Astrid and the rest is history...
The arrangement that was made between the Belgian and Swedish royal house was that Astrid promised to raise any future children as Catholics and that she would convert if she felt ready for it. After Princess Joséphine-Charlotte was born in 1926 and started to ask her mother about baby Jesus and she couldn't answer her questions and mainly the fact that her daughter said her evening prayer with her nanny made her realise that it felt wrong to belong to another church than the one her husband and child belonged. So she asked Leopold for an instructor in the Catholic faith and converted in August 1930.
I don't think Elisabeth had a problem with Astrid in particular, but it is true that she preferred Leopold consider a Catholic princess. She also urged him to consider the Orthodox princesses of Romania (probably Princess Ileana, possibly Maria), but nothing came of it. Albert and Elisabeth liked Astrid very much after she and Leopold got to know one another.
Astrid and her siblings were seen as very desirable possible spouses for other marriageable royals following WWI. While Margaretha seemed pretty devoted to Axel of Denmark from the start, both Martha and Astrid were linked to several Norwegian, Danish, and British princes. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands really liked their brother Carl as a husband for her daughter Juliana, enough so that some souvenirs were manufactured and sold in anticipation of an engagement (in reality, he and Juliana didn't like one another). This is unusual for a group of prince/princesses who were merely grandchildren of a monarch, but understandable given the dynamics of Europe at the time.
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