The date in King Albert’s Book says Christmas 1914. The contributors number in the dozens with names such as H.H AGA Khan, The Right Honourable Arthur J. Balfour and addresses such as #10 Downing Street Whitehall.
Such accolades they showered on King Albert. King Albert of Belgium was honoured by his peers throughout the realm with a Tribute to the Belgian King and people from representative men and women throughout the World.
And I quote, from the Introduction to King Albert’s Book: The immediate object of this book is to offer, in the names and by the pens of a large group of the representative men and women of the civilized countries, a tribute of admiration to Belgium, on the heroic and ever-memorable share she has taken in the war which now convulses Europe and at the same time to invoke the world’s sympathy, its help and its prayers for the gallant little nation in the vast sorrow of its present condition.
Those were the days long before Facebook, Twitter and even television. With quotes, paragraphs, poetry and pictures, this tome was put together to aid Belgium in its fight against tyranny. It was used to raise much-needed funds to help the country in its time of trouble. The language is one from a place in time where words were used to convey concern and consternation over the situation in Europe and in particular, Belgium.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds were given to the Belgians, as well as the proceeds from the sale of this book.
As we enter another era of discord, it is disconcerting to say the least at how little has actually changed after the War to End All Wars.
I shall leave you with this quote by Sir Valentine Chirol:
It is a privilege to join in any tribute to King Albert and his people. King Albert is the only sovereign whose royal title is not a territorial one. He is styled King, not King of Belgium but of the Belgians: as if it had been preordained that though a ruthless conqueror might rob him for a time of his kingdom, none should ever rob him of his kingship. Never perhaps more proudly than today, when his Government has been compelled to seek refuge on the hospitable soil of France and he himself, at the head of his indomitable army, is fighting close to the French frontier for the last inch of Belgian territory, has King Albert vindicated his right to a splendid title: King of the Belgians, heroic head of an heroic people.
Hope to see you as you “pass time” at the Quesnel and District Museum.
Honey Affleck is chair of the Quesnel and District Museum Commission and regular Observer contributor.