It has long been recognized that the second King of the Belgians had rather advanced ideas about what he himself referred to as “the beautification of cities”. It is also well known that he regularly set out his ideas when he appeared before the Senate.
We learn from the Goffinet Archives – and this is a real discovery – that such interventions were not whispered in his ear by thoughtful advisors. The Prince always wrote his speeches himself. His passion for town planning was both sincere and deep-rooted. Even when he was travelling, he never lost sight of development plans in hand. This is clearly demonstrated by this letter, written by Prince Leopold to Adrien Goffinet in Messina on 26 February 1863.
In October 1862, the Prince set out on a four-month journey to Egypt. In a letter he wrote from Alexandrina on 17 February 1863, he tells his close advisor of his great satisfaction regarding the progress of work in Laeken. The Prince recommended his colleague to follow the project closely. His wish was to see two semi-circular courtyards built on either side of the Bridge of Laeken, which would frame the entrance to the Allée Verte.
On his return journey, Leopold returned to the subject. From Messina, he wrote a long letter to Goffinet, dated 26 February 1863, in which he illustrated his idea in a sketch. In 1874, the project partially came to fruition with the construction of a double viaduct.