If that sounds rather silly; it should. The Belgian people may not have had an independent country of their own until 1830 but they had been living together for many, many centuries prior to that. One could go all the way to Roman times and see the area of modern-day Belgium called, basically, Belgium on any map. It is though, admittedly, a tricky subject when it comes to tracing the ancestry of peoples that far back (people are still arguing over whether Charlemagne was French or German and that was many centuries later) but, fortunately, we do not have to go back that far. It was in 1549 that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, also King of Spain (who was born in what is now Belgium), signed the Pragmatic Sanction that grouped together, roughly, what are the Low Countries of today as the Spanish Netherlands, quite apart from France and Germany. Under the Dukes of Burgundy this area, which had a mixture of languages even back then, even achieved a sort of independence in all but name and were extremely prosperous.
|Duke of Parma|
In fact, not only does the history of Belgium as a unique political entity go back many centuries, so does the history of people of radically different ideas coming together in common cause. For instance, in 1790 there was a short-lived bid for independence when radicals inspired by the revolutionaries in France (and more distantly America) came together with Catholic conservatives opposed to the religious reforms of the Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II to create the United States of Belgium. They even flew a black, yellow and red flag though not exactly the same as the current design and had two official languages; French and Dutch. The revolt was eventually crushed by Emperor Leopold II but given all of that, it seems ludicrous to say that Belgium, a country of French and Dutch speaking peoples with a black, yellow and red tricolor was something invented from scratch in 1830. One could even call it a sort of restoration but as a monarchy instead of a confederate republic. In any event, the point is that Belgium, while not independent, was a distinct place of its own long before 1830. Even immediately before, if one looks at the Napoleonic period one can see military units of the Austrian Imperial forces referred to as Belgian units and when the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established by the Congress of Vienna, Belgium remained distinct even then. It was, in fact, intended to be a sort of dual-state. Even the troops that fought in the battle of Waterloo were often referred to as the “Dutch-Belgian” troops and both Amsterdam in The Netherlands and Brussels in Belgium were considered capital cities of the new United Kingdom.
|King Willem I|
Given all of that history, I fail to see how anyone can call the Kingdom of Belgium an “artificial state”. This was an area that had existed for centuries that was quite distinct from France, Germany and The Netherlands. It had a population which had been governed together for hundreds of years and the differences in language never seemed to matter all that much. During all that time, though it was not official and plenty of other local names were used, the overall area was still often referred to as Belgium and the people as Belgians. They lived and worked together and finally rose up together to claim their independence as a constitutional monarchy. The Great Powers did not cause this to happen, they simply helped settle the matter. They certainly did not “create” the Kingdom of Belgium. Especially early on it was even a far more cohesive country than the Austrian Empire (later Austria-Hungary) or even the Kingdom of Spain. Certainly there were differences in local customs and language when one compared Flanders to Wallonia but the same could be said about England and Scotland (which once spoke a form of Gaelic), Piedmont and Calabria, Prussia and Bavaria or Brittany and Lower Navarre in France.
As for the monarchists of the world, at a time when monarchy is such an endangered species and under constant threat all around the world, everyone should be united in support of the Kingdom of Belgium. The Belgian Royals are the only reigning members of one of the most venerable dynasties in all of European history, they are tied by blood or marriage to such historic royal houses as the Bourbon, Hapsburg, Savoy and Hohenzollern. No one should also be under the illusion that what happens to Belgium could not happen to the country you live in. All of the arguments made about the Kingdom of Belgium could easily be made about a great many other monarchies from Canada to Spain to Malaysia. In terms of the policies of passing governments, there is much that I would disagree with most Belgians on, however, governments are transitory things while monarchy is to stand permanent and immovable. If Belgium were to be destroyed, it would only result in one or two more republics and a bureaucratic re-shuffling of EU borders in Brussels which, in fact, might make the EU even stronger with Brussels itself becoming an EU-city state, a sort of “Papal Rome” for the United States of Europe. The Kingdom of Belgium is not an artificial state, it is an old and important piece of western civilization and all monarchists should stand united in support of the King and Kingdom of Belgium.