Letter from Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, to King Leopold II

Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders
20 November 1874

One of the numerous interesting aspects of the Goffinet Archives lies in the useful information they provide about some of the marriage proposals drawn up and put into operation during the reign of King Leopold II.

Two types of marriage proposals are found in the archives. On the one hand, there are the weddings that the King himself orchestrated and for which royal emissaries were appointed to gage the state of mind of those concerned. Such plans often consisted of charming traps laid to enable the candidates to meet “accidentally”. Others were of a more spontaneous nature, in which the two lovers requested, directly or indirectly, royal approval for their marriage. Such plans, however, did not always end in marriage.

This documentation enables us to determine the extent to which the King submitted marriage proposals to a well thought-out policy or to diplomatic considerations. They show us above all that sentiments were of little importance in reaching the final decision. Drawing up a marriage contract often involved long and bitter discussions as well as negotiations between the representatives of the two royal families concerned.

It is within such a context that a letter written by Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, was addressed to King Leopold II on 20 November 1874. In order to draw up the marriage contract between Princess Louise (youngest daughter of Leopold II and Marie-Henriette) and Philippe of Saxe-Cobourg (eldest son of Prince Auguste of Saxe-Cobourg-Kohary and his wife, the French Princess Clémentine d'Orléans), the Count of Flanders sent to his brother, King Leopold II, some extracts from his own marriage contract. He also made it known that he thought it was a pity that their father, King Leopold I, had not foreseen any family rule destined to limit “the rights of girls”.

Site Archives of the Royal Palace

Material / technique: 
Pen on paper
Type of acquisition: 
Heritage Fund acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Archives of the Royal Palace, Brussels