On King Charles X Of France And Maligned Royals

In a letter to her niece, Princess Victoria, Leopold I of the Belgians remembers the unfortunate King of France Charles X and muses on the injustices history, newspapers, and ignorant politicians do to royals:

Laeken, 18th November 1836

… Poor Charles X. is dead, it is said of the cholera. I regret him; few people were ever kinder to me than the good old man. He was blinded by certain absolute ideas, but a good man, and deserving to be loved. History will state that Louis XVIII was a most liberal monarch, reigning with great mildness and justice to his end, but that his brother, from his despotic and harsh disposition, upset all the other had done, and lost the throne. Louis XVIII was a clever, hard-hearted man, shackled by no principle, very proud and false. Charles X an honest man, a kind friend, an honourable master, sincere in his opinions, and inclined to do everything that is right.

That teaches us what we ought to believe in history as it is compiled according to ostensible events and results known to the generality of people. Memoirs are much more instructive, if written honestly and not purposely fabricated, as it happens too often nowadays, particularly at Paris…. I shall not fail to read the books you so kindly recommend. I join you a small copy of our very liberal Constitution, hitherto conscientiously executed—no easy matter. You may communicate it to your Mother; it is the best answer to an infamous Radical or Tory-Radical paper, the Constitutional, which seems determined to run down the Coburg family. I don’t understand the meaning of it; the only happiness poor Charlotte knew was during her short wedded existence, and there was but one voice on that subject, that we offered a bright prospect to the nation.

Since that period I have (though been abused, and vilified merely for drawing an income which was the consequence of a Treaty ratified by both Houses of Parliament, and that without one dissenting voice, a thing not very likely to happen again) done everything to see England prosperous and powerful. I have spared her, in 1831, much trouble and expense, as without my coming here very serious complications, war and all the expensive operations connected with it, must have taken place. I give the whole of my income, without the reservation of a farthing, to the country; I preserve unity on the Continent, have frequently prevented mischief at Paris, and to thank me for all that, I get the most scurrilous abuse, in which the good people from constant practice so much excel….

The conclusion of all this—and that by people whose very existence in political life may be but of a few years’ standing—is scurrilous abuse of the Coburg family. I should like to know what harm the Coburg family has done to England? But enough of this. Your principle is very good; one must not mind what newspapers say. Their power is a fiction of the worst description, and their efforts marked by the worst faith and the greatest untruths. If all the Editors of the papers in the countries where the liberty of the press exists were to be assembled, we should have a crew to which you would not confide a dog that you would value, still less your honour and reputation….

Further reading:
The Letters of Queen Victoria, Volume 1 (of 3)

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