Charles of Belgium, brother of King Leopold III, was Regent of Belgium from September 1944 to July 1950. Nine governments followed one after the other during this regency, which was marked by the Royal Question and the post war restoration of the country’s economic activity.
During the German occupation of Belgium in the Second World War King Leopold III of Belgium was held under house arrest in his palace. In 1944, shortly before the liberation of Belgium, he and his family were deported to Germany. His brother Prince Charles managed to escape and hid in Sart-lez-Spa until the liberation of Belgium.
Since King Leopold III was still abroad and officially declared ’unable to rule’, his brother Prince Charles was appointed Regent on 20 September 1944. He endorsed the policy of the government in exile during the war. In May 1945 Leopold III was liberated by the Americans. However, Prince Charles remained in office as Regent. Successive governments could not agree to end the ’impossibility of reigning’ and part of the Belgian public was against the return of the king. Charles reigned until 20 July 1950, when the government officially proclaimed that his brother’s inability to rule had come to an end.
The question of the Kings ability to rule, the so called Royal Question, divided the country for several years. Many Belgians considered Prince Charles as the man who saved the monarchy. He supported the government’s foreign policy, that was contrary to the policy of neutrality recommended by his brother. Charles was an outstanding diplomat and during his regency Belgium resumed a role on the international stage. The foundation of the Benelux was ratified and Belgium became a member of the United Nations Organisation, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and of the Council of Europe. In 1950 a referendum brought Leopold III back on the throne. Prince Charles retired from public life and became a painter, known as Karel van Vlaanderen.
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, located in the Jubelpark (Jubileepark) in Brussels, presents thousands of unique and amazing objects, stemming from ten ages of military history. Not only uniforms and prestigious distinctions, but also works of art, musical instruments and an exceptional collection of planes, guns and tanks. One gallery is dedicated to the Second World War.
The House of European History in Brussels, Belgium was opened in May 2017 following an initiative of the European Parliament. The museum retraces the history of Europe since 1789 through different exhibitions available in all 24 official European Union languages.
On 2 September 1944 allied troops crossed the Belgian border at diverse places. The process of liberation went fast: in ten days a large majority of the country was liberated. But it did not put an end to the German occupation. Two months later Hitler surprised the Allies with his last offensive: the Battle of the Bulge.