Royal Losses, Symbolic Politics and Media Events in Interwar Europe: Responses to the Accidental Deaths of King Albert I and Queen Astrid of Belgium (1934–1935)

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Abstract

This article examines the public and private responses to the accidental deaths of King Albert I and Queen Astrid of Belgium in 1934 and 1935. The public and private mourning for Albert and Astrid and the impact of their deaths and funerals can only be understood when we analyse these events against the background of structural transformations in national identity, international and national politics and media culture in interwar Europe. The analysis of the responses to these events thus offers unique insights into the relationship between the Belgian monarchy, politics and modern mass media in the 1930s. The memory of the war experience permeated both funerals through the massive presence of war veterans. Condolence letters to the royal court show how Astrid's popularity made the Belgian monarchy more human and approachable than it had ever been, while their sudden deaths simultaneously stimulated the mystification of both royal figures. Albert's funeral even constituted an event of symbolic significance in the interstate relations of Belgium with France. The meaning of both these high-profile deaths was negotiated within the mass media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-174
JournalContemporary European History
Volume24
Issue number2
Early online date13 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • death studies
  • Political History of Belgium
  • interwar period
  • Belgian monarchy

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