Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe

A united Europe will be like a 'Greater Belgium', and Belgian political culture has already infected the political mores of the European Union. These are some of the ideas of a new book, to be published in May by Imprint Academic. The provocative title, "A Throne in Brussels - Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe", and the hot and - at least in Belgium - politically incorrect subject, will propably incite spirited debate. The author of the book is Belgian publicist Paul Belien (bio), known as founder of the Centre for the New Europe, and as one of the nine co-authors (in 1992) of the founding declaration of the Flemish Liberal Party. He is often introduced as the husband of secessionist MP Alexandra Colen, and also an outspoken fan of this blog, where he sometimes posts comments.

Imprint Academic announced the book as follows:
If Crown Princess Charlotte had not died in childbirth in 1817, she and her husband, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, would have succeeded to the British throne. But instead the great powers installed Leopold as king of Belgium - a new, artificial state inhabited by Catholic Dutch in the North, and French-speaking Walloons in the South. Belgium is sometimes compared to multilingual Switzerland, but whereas Switzerland grew organically, gradually creating a Swiss national consciousness, Belgium is an artificial state, in which two peoples were forced to live together and where no Belgian national consciousness developed. It could fall apart in the next ten years.

Paul Belien argues that the pan-European super-state currently in the making will resemble a 'Greater-Belgium' rather than a 'Greater-Switzerland', since Europe will also be an artificial construct. Belgium has infected EU political attitudes and acts as a model for the EU - a failed attempt to 'construct a nation' out of different peoples with separate languages and traditions. To learn what the EU as a single state might be like, take up this highly readable mix of history, analysis and warning. You'll never feel the same about Belgium again.

Paul Beliën
Paul Belien
I am planning to publish a full review of this book as soon as it is available. In the mean time, I asked Paul Belien for some clarification. Based on Belien's earlier publications, a.o. in the Flemish secessionist quarterly Secessie and the Flemish weekly 't Pallieterke, and in comments on this blog, I expected the book to contain some politically sensitive historical details about former Belgian kings, a.o. the ties between King Albert I and the socialist party, and between King Leopold III and the nazis. Paul Belien sent me this answer:
My book is mainly a public choice analysis of Belgium. I did not want it to be exclusively academic, but also sufficiently interesting for a large audience, so I wrapped it in a story about royalty, thereby focusing on the ties with the UK, as the book is intended for the English-speaking market. The ties between the Belgian royal family (or more generally, the Belgian establishment at large) and the socialists are amply elaborated. My thesis is that the Belgian construction is based on the ideology of "social corporatism". The ties of the Coburgs with the nazis are also discussed, though only indirectly. Actually, Leopold III favoured Germany during the war because, as he said to Paul Struye: "To be frank: it is impossible to hesitate between German supremacy and English supremacy. England is a social danger".

The main thesis of my book can also be found in an article I wrote for the Salisbury Review in December 2003: A Nation under Construction - Lessons from Belgium for Iraq and Europe.

On European unification, though perhaps there will be no European super state including all of the current 25 members, the danger remains that a Europe with differing levels of integration (the Saturn model) will emerge, with Belgium, France and Germany at the core. This so-called "social Europe" will suffer from all the problems that Belgium currently has.

The book (350 pages, £25) will become available in May 2005, and it can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK, and from, where it costs slightly less than $50.





marie, no, sorry, no bastard daugher I'm aware of. It is very well possible though. There's a royalty watcher, a Mr. Van Den Berghe, who claims that Leopold III, even before the car crash in Switzerland in which his wife, Queen Astrid, perished, had already a mistress, like Astrid from Sweden.

When I think about it, Baudoin may have been the only Belgian King without mistresses.




what about a bastard daughter leopold III had? does anybody know something about her?


Garyth Richardson


The EU will undoubredly implode due to it 's own " internal contradictions " as the Marxists would say. The question , as Mark Steyn has asked is WHAT will replace it...when the socio economic and cultural demographics ( see MARK STEYN - ' America Alone ' ) - in 30 years time - have rendered the indigenous population , single , childless , senile and taking Skunk cannabis everyday - contrasted with an increasing Muslim presence and economic meltdown and lawlessness are rampant - people will be BEGGING for someone to restore law and order as per the Nazis in Weimar Germany . So I ask - given that Turkey WILL eventually be granted Full Membership status and that I forsee the formation of a political party along the lines of " The Abrahamic People's Party " / " People of The Book Party " / "Progressive Sharia Party " - have a go and work it out for yourself....Remember fact can be stranger than fiction...


Miguel Lomelino


As a Portuguese-born Flemish, I hope that one day, not far from now, Flemish Politicians will have the courage to proclaim the Independence of The Flemish Republic!




The Belgain people should be ashamed that they are supposed to hero worship this evil king. He killed more people, than king sinahouk, pol pot, mussolini, or lenin, and has absolutely no good about him what so ever. He is treated as the best belgain when he was teh worst, All teh staues of him should bes destroted and belgium should become a republic. It then should build monuments to the congolese, men women and childrewn whjo scum like him killed.




> How did such a nationalism develope? And why did a similar national identity not develop in Belgium?

I'm not sure the Kurds can be accused of "nationalism". But a Kurdish state would be landlocked, totally surrounded with hostile neighbours: Turkey, Syria, Iran and the remainder of Iraq. Add to that that Baghdad has still some serious brandname attached to it as capital of the Caliphate.

The non-development of any Belgian identity is mostly attribuable to an inconsistent strategy from the powers-that be that first wanted to eradicate the Flemish language, and failing that, to marginalise it. The German occupations during the World Wars interfered a bit with that, and caused a lot of friction afterwards.

The result was that Flemings have come to identify their language as one of the core elements of their identity. I mean, If the Walloons don't want you to have it, it must be valuable, right?




But why did Iraq, with an "artifical" creation similar to Belgian, reject separatism as seen by the recent elections? Many non-Iraqi pundits were predicting civil war and ethnic strife. Yet, many Iraqis that were interviewed by the "boots on the ground reporters" laughed it off and specifically said, they thought of themselves as Iraqis first.

How did such a nationalism develope? And why did a similar national identity not develop in Belgium?

Is it your prediction that Iraq will split under the weight of the deal-making necessary to keep it together as a group of non-related ethnicities - the "renter" mentality you mention as being common in Belgium/Belgian politics today?


Paul Belien


Well, it depends what kind of European Union you are talking about. If it is a supranational institution with minimal control over money, only acting as an organiser for certain issues of foreign policy and allowing freemarket cooperation between sovereign member states, then you are referring to exactly the kind of Europe the Eurosceptics favour.

Sadly, however, bureaucracies have a tendency to expand, always trying to enlarge their powers. This is the kind of "Europe" we will get if we are not careful.

Remember that when Belgium was founded, it also prided itself on be the "most liberal state in Europe," but it developed into a corporatist (and inherently corrupt) model, where the country, including the economy, is run by the so-called "Social Partners," i.e. the trade unions and the employers' federations, and where all major decisions are taken outside the normal parliamentary procedures.

Some Flemish secessionists do, indeed, hope that Belgium will dissolve in the European Union. Instead, however, I fear we will all end up with a super-Belgium.





If the Belgian state had been created along the same lines as the EU with minimal control over direct taxation/money and only acting as an organiser and foreign representative there would never have been much discord in the first place.

I am a Flemish secessionist myself but I am also fervently in favour of the EU. The only thing which is crucial is how to strike the right balance between pooling power where it is necessary and keeping the proper amount of power in the hands of your own region/country.

As usual, it's the money stupid.


Paul Belien


Indeed, and this is why the EU-bureaucracy will not tolerate Belgium to fall apart. If the model collapses, it proves that the Euro-superstate cannot work either. And look at it from another angle: "Eurosceptics" who want to convince the world that "Europe" is not a viable project, must realise that they are fighting the same fight as the "Belgosceptic" Flemish secessionists in Belgium.




So in other words, if the EU is a "Greater Belgium" and Belgium itself is an artificial construct, is it possible that the EU will also fall apart?

Food for thought.

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