Leopold III of Belgium

At Eton : 1915 to 1919

Members of Royal Families

Known for: Leopold was known for his role in World War Two in which he led the Belgians as the head of the army once the rest of his cabinet had fled, resulting in a controversial surrender to the German forces.

At Eton: Leopold Attended Eton from 1915 to 1919 between the ages of 13 to 18 and during this time he received private tutoring instead of normal lessons and he won the French prize. He subsequently created a king Leopold III fund in 1988 that provided £3200 pounds in funds for travel.

Life and career: King Leopold ascended to the throne in 1934 after the death of his father Albert I he ruled until 1951 when he abdicated in favour of his heir and son with his brother Charles serving as prince regent. Leopold’s controversial actions, such as staying in Belgium during the war, led to politicians questioning whether or not he was fit to rule the country and so he was forced through public opinion to abdicate.

In World War Two he led the Belgians as the head of the army once the rest of his cabinet had fled. Leopold was forced to surrender to the Germans as they encircled the Belgium troops. On the 27 May 1940 he formally surrendered to the Germans. This triggered international backlash as many Belgians saw the action as unconstitutional, some cabinet ministers even believed he stayed in Belgium to create a fascist regime under the Nazis.

Belgium’s allies displayed the surrender as a traitorous act, with Winston Churchill saying

“At the last moment when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave, efficient army, nearly half a million strong, guarded our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, without the advice of his ministers and upon his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his army and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.”

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