Letter: Belgians' moving tribute to their beloved king

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Sir: Many of us expatriates living in Brussels have been distressed by the Independent's coverage of the death of King Baudouin, from your chilly obituary to the caption below the picture (5 August) showing the Belgian Royal Family, not 'waiting for their cars' (your words), but standing together in homage before the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Brussels, during a scheduled and touching stop in the slow, sad journey of the cortege between Laeken, the king's home, and the royal palace in Brussels, for the lying-in-state. Half of your accompanying article ('Biker prince becomes Belgian King') dwelt on trivial or negative aspects of the new king.

The enormous wave of love and respect that Belgians have demonstrated for King Baudouin, and their stunned grief at his sudden passing, have been tangible in the streets of Brussels all this week. The huge crowds waiting hours for the lying-in-state, the thousands of flowers placed against the railings of the palaces in Laeken and in Brussels, the Belgian tricolour looped up with black ribbons that so many people have hung over their balconies, are a clear and moving tribute to a beloved and effective monarch.

Belgians feel that King Baudouin presided with tact and sensitivity over the 'federalisation' of the state. He was a modest, wise and hard- working man, who took an active part in the struggle to solve the problems of this much-divided society. Above all, and most touchingly, he was 'our king', for them all, Flemish-speaking and French-speaking alike.

We have felt moved and privileged to have been able to share with our Belgian friends and neighbours the events of this sad week; and, like them, we look forward with positive expectations to the new reign.

Yours faithfully,



6 August

(Photograph omitted)