KING OF THE BELGIANS DEAD CLIMBING ACCIDENT Body Found Under Steep Cliff BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 The death of King Albert in tragic cir- cumstances this afternoon, shocked Bel- gium to its foundations. The popular monarch, who, at 58, still enjoyed moun- taineering, slipped while climbing the Roches de Marche des Dames near Na- mur, and later was found dead at the King Albert of foot of a steep cliff. The Heir-Apparent is Crown Prince, Leopold, Duke of Bra- bant.
King Albert, himself driving the car, and accompanied by his valet, left yesterday afternoon for the Rooches de Marche des Dames, near Namur. where he intended to climb the most difficult rocks. He left his valet in the car. saying that he expected to be back in an hour, but he did not return. His valet vainly climbed to search for him, then telephoned Brussels. Officials rushed to the scene. must- tered local searchers, and found the body of the King at 4 p.m. at the foot of a steep cliff. There was a deep wound at the base of the neck. but otherwise the face was serene. Ap- parently the King had missed his foot- ing and slipped during the ascent. The body was brought to the palace at 3.30 a.m.; and was received by the Prime Minister (Comte de Brogreville) and three other Ministers. The Queen was first informed of the accident when it happened, but was only informed of the King's death at 6 am. Crown Prince Leopold and the Prin- cess Astrid are holidaying in Switzer- land, and cannot arrive till to-night. A Cabinet meeting was held early this morning. but no decicion will be an- nounced till the Crown Prlice arrives. Reigned for 24 Years When on December 7, 1909, Leopold II. died, his nephew Albert mounted the throne, and on December 23, 1900, was crowned King of the Belgians. He was the second son of the Count of Flanders, brother of Leopold II., and came to the throne through the de- fault of male issue, Leopold the Sec- ond's son, as well as Prince Albert's elder brother, both having died. He was then 34 years old, a handsome young man, tall, broad-shouldered, and strong, fond of an outdoor life, his fa- vourite sport being Alpine climbing. He had received a scientific and mili- tary education, had served in all the grades of the army, was simple in his tastes, modest and retiring in disposi- tion, cared nothing for the pageantry of courts, and was sparing of words and of gestures, a keen, quiet, if some what detached, observer of men and events, with an extraordinary fund of common sense, a sound judgment, and that sense of humour which character- ises the Coburgs in general. He was always popular; the Belgians liked him for his bigness, his good looks, simple manner, easy approach, unfailing good humour, and because of his happy do- mestic life. The Royal Family In 1909 he had married the Prln- cess Elizabeth, Duchess of Bavaria. whose delicate charm and fragile beauty at once won the devotion of the Belgian people whom she was so sig- nally to serve. They had three chil- dren-Prince Leopold, Duke of Bra- bant; Prince Charles, Count of Flan- ders; and the Princess Marie Jose, who married the Crown Prince Humbert of Italy in 1930. The Heir-Apparent is Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant, who was born on November 3, 1901, and who married Princess Astrid of Sweden in 1920. They have issue a daughter and a son (Prince Baudouin). AS A SOLDIER When King Albert ascende the throne of' Belgium, he occupied himself with the organisation of the army, and in May, 1913, he gave his assent to the law which was designed to secure for Bel- gium an army of 350,000 men. He also interested himself in various social and legal reforms, while his scientific tastes did. not prevent him from be- coming a friend of art and literature. The poet; Verhaeren, and the painter, Laermans, were on friendly terms with the royal family, the latter receiving personal attention from the Queen when he was threatened with the loss of his sight. On August 2, 1914, when the Ger- nians sent their ultimatum to Belgium, King Albert at once prepared to de- fend his country. He himself took command of the army. He left Ant- werp at the last possible moment, and then established himself with the army on the Yser. During the whole of the war he remained with the troops, having his headquarters at La Panne, where he was exposed to the risks of enemy bombardments. He made con- tinual visits to the front line trenches, and even surveyed the enemy's lines from an aeroplane. The Queen re- mained with him, acting as a nurse in the Hospital do l'Ocean at La Panne. She also interested herself deeply in the welfare of the soldiers in the trenches, and supertntended the estab- lishment of canteens and aid posts. Prince Leopold, King Albert's' elder son, lived by his father's wish the life of a simple soldier in the 12th Regi- ment. Commanded Northern Army When the gener..l offensive of Octo- ber, 1918, was undertaken, King Albert was appointed commander of the nor- thern army groups, consisting of both Belgians and French, which captured the forest of Houthulst, the Flandern- stullung, Thourout, Ostend, and Bruges, and forced the passage of the Lys. On November 13, 1918, the King and Queen made their entry into Ghent, and on November 22 into Brus- sels, being received with enormous en- thusiasm. Even before the signing of the Armistice, the King had sum- moned at Lophem a number of poli- ticians and arranged a new Govern- ment, containing representatives of tlie three more important Belgian poli- tical parties. After the Armistice the King occu- pied himself actively with the im- provement of conditionis in his country, visiting the devastated areas and con- triburting considerable sum to "King Albert's Fund," which was devoted to providing temporary shelter for suffer- ers from the war. He also undertook journeys to Brazil, Spain, France, the United States, and England, with the object of studying trade conditions and finding new outlets for Belgian com- merce. The popularity of the King and Queen, great even before the war, steadily increased, even the Socialist party taking nmany opportunities of expressng feelings of respect towards the royal family. King Albert de- clined tile augmnentation of his civil list, which was offered to him by the Chamber immediately after the war, A Simple Life The following lucid appreciation of King Albert was written some years ago by a contemporairy:- The infancy of King Albert was characterised by the simplicity of the family life in which it was passed. After general and mitilititary studies he engaged in prac- tical work and rravel, undertaking, not- ably, a voyage to North America; and his knowledge was remarkably de- veloped, above all .the domains of social science antd economics. King Albert was not well known before his accesslon to tile throne. He lived in the shadow of an eminent bu authori- tative monarch, kept apart from the great enterprises wehich niarked the (Continued. on, Page Eight
KING ALBERT (Continued from-Page Seven.) end of the preceding reign. It is not very easy to succeed to a great man. King Albert surmounted that diillculty with great ease. ]is first advantage consisted in pre. senting a moral physiognomy totally different from that of his predecessor, lie did not come alone L the throne. He arrived with "ht,, wife and child ren-is Uthat there was a first rear. lion, one inopt syntpathetic hi Belgium, which of itself gained hlni an instite tive popularity. Ho commenced his profession of kuhg, if ono.may use the expression; modestly, but he son manti fested a very active piersonality, energetic and 'most intelligent Those remarkable qualities were actuated by a powerful lever; the sentimnent of duty, the need of truth and. justice carried to a rare degree. Beneficent Interest He applied himself so conscientiously to the fultilment of his mission, neg lecting no inter'st,, r- branch of tuittionial life, that sootn everyone felt the beneficent action of the head of the state extend to his particular domain. His upright spirit searched everywhere for personal merit, industry, and moral qualities. The economic machine hav ing been marvellously fitted in the course of the preceding reign, he was able to devote himself to putting in motion the tnumerous ioteral, intellec tual, and artistic resources of the ta tionfl. It that he was exceptionally seconded by the eminent woman. who is Queen of the Belgians. He under stood, moreover, that a rich people occupying the perilous geographical position of Belgliun required a strong army, a school of energy and disinter estedness. At, the moptelit of the terrible crisis which, descended on Belgium he was fomnid calm' and heroic, endowed with exceptiotnal physical vigour. He was always at hits post braving. the most real dangers. He was a man of action. He was also a matt who studied, and, finally, a man who knew how to talk. His 'conversation was never useless It was always interesting; often witty. His style was preese and his vocabu lary very extensive. That popularity, which was surely justified, of the first years of his reign, affirmed itself with eclat. The Chief of- the State and his people found themselves indissolubly. united in the same sentiment and the same will. Secrecy Preserved One of the first searchers says that when the party set out nobody knew it was the King, who always went to the mountains incognito, as he loved to be alone. Even when the cars ar rived from Brussels the greatest se crecy was preserved, and it was only early this morning that the searchers learned that the victim was their he loved Iing. Even when the body was taken away the villagers were not aware that it was his Majesty. King Albert had been for years a keen apd enthusiastic mountaineer, and last October he rile .bed to the southern summit of Monte Costello in the Ital ian Alps. This was only the sixth time the peak had been conquered. He had a narrow escape in the Dolomit's in 1930. when, as he was ascending one of the highest peaks in pouring rain, a small rock became- dislodged under his feet. Fortunately, his guide held on to the ropes and saved King Albert from falling over a 100-feet precipice. A Wonderful Man The news was conveyed to his Majesty at Buckingham Palace early this morning.. - Mr. Lloyd. George, who was one of the first to offer his tributes, said. "I saw much of Ring Albert in wartime and at the Peace Conference, and was always impressed with his calmness and courage." Earl Granville, ex Ambassador to Brussels. said, "King Albert was a wonderful man and a wonderful kinc. Both personally and politically his death will be a terrible loss to Bel glum and the world." Kin: George and Queen Mary sent a ' private message to the Belgian royal family. A message on behalf of the British people is being prepared. Field-Marshal Sir William Birdwood said-"We of the British Army looked upon Xing Albert as manly, upright and grand soldier, a evoted to his people and his country and prepared to stand with his back to the wall to the last second. I am sure every British sol dier will be deeply touched." The Pope, who was deeply grieve' immediately telegraphed his condo' etces and an apostolic blessing a Queen Elizabeth, and then returned I his private chapel to pray for Kin! Albert's soul, M. Doumergue, N. iherriot, and Ai Tardieu will leave for Brussels to-mor row, returning the sante night. MI. Lebrutn. MI. Petain, and NI. ilarthou will attend the funeral. "LIKE A FATHER" SYDNEY, Sunday. "We are filled with sorrow," said N. 1lion Segaert, Consul-General for Bed. glum, to-night. "He was like a father, and will be mourned like a father. It is a great blow to every Belgian throughout the world, and I feel sure that everyone in Australia will be full of sympathy." The -Consul-General addod tlint be bait received no official advice of Cthe King's death. MEETINGS DOUGLAS CREDIT ASSOCIATION At tihe fortoigittly mectintg of tihe Douglas Credit Associatiout to lie lieia in Cthe C'ubilc Libiary class room at ouclock this eventing a lecture ot Cthe "Cause anid Cure of Waitt in ithe Bidet of Plenty" itill be given Tue lecturer wvili be Mr. WV. H-. PRhys, of Brisisone, Cthe author of "R~eal Wealth anti Finan cial l'ovei-ty." Mr. Ithys is geiterally recut;;ised as tile father of Doiih.iu;bittt in Austretlia, mid is acknowledged ft he one, of the west lisithorilies ont thi sutb ecot. Everybody is inviteti, aitd Otittis emio is free,