Antiqua Print Gallery King Leopold II
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King Leopold II

Leopold II (French: Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor; Dutch: Leopold Lodewijk Filips Maria Victor) (9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was King of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second (but eldest surviving) son of Leopold I, he succeeded his father to the throne in 1865 and remained king until his death. He was the brother of Empress Carlota of Mexico and first cousin to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. He is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken by the King. The state included the entire area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He ran the Congo brutally, as his personal fiefdom; for him it was a business venture. A friend of Henry Morton Stanley, he used Stanley to help him lay claim to the territory he called Congo. Leopold thought of himself as an astute businessman and he once spent a week in Seville studying Spanish records of their trade with their Latin American colonies. The regime of Leopold's African colony, the Congo Free State, became one of the most infamous international scandals of the turn of the century. The famous 1904 report by the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for cold-blooded mass killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese people). The Encyclopædia Britannica gives a total population decline of 8 million to 30 million under Leopold's control Leopold II married Marie Henriette Anne von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduchess of Austria in Brussels on 22 August 1853. Their children were: Louise-Marie Amélie, born in Brussels 18 February 1858, and died at Wiesbaden 1 March 1924. She married Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Léopold Ferdinand Elie Victor Albert Marie, Count of Hainaut (as eldest son of the heir apparent), later Duke of Brabant (as heir apparent), born at Laeken/Laken on 12 June 1859, and died at Laken on 22 January 1869, from pneumonia, after falling into a pond. Stéphanie Clotilde Louise Herminie Marie Charlotte, born at Laken on 11 May 1864, and died at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma in Győr-Moson-Sopron, Hungary, on 23 August 1945. She married (1) Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and then (2) Elemér Edmund Graf Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya et Vásáros-Namény (created, in 1917, Prince Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya et Vásáros-Namény). Clémentine, born at Laken on 30 July 1872, and died at Nice on 8 March 1955. She married Prince Napoléon Victor Jérôme Frédéric Bonaparte (1862–1926), head of the Bonaparte family. Leopold II was also the father of two sons, Lucien Philippe Marie Antoine (9 February 1906–1984) and Philippe Henri Marie François (16 October 1907–21 August 1914), born out of wedlock. Their mother was Blanche Zélia Joséphine Delacroix (12 May 1883 Bucharest – 12 February 1948 Cambo), aka Caroline Lacroix, a prostitute who married the King on 12 December/14 December 1909, in a religious ceremony with no validity under Belgian law, at the Pavilion of Palms, Royal Palace of Laken, in Brussels, five days before his death. The Priest of Laeken Cooreman performed the ceremony. These sons were adopted in 1910 by Lacroix's second husband, Antoine Durrieux. Though Lacroix is said to have been unofficially created Baroness de Vaughan in Belgium (a courtesy title), Lucien the Duke of Tervuren, and Philippe the Count of Ravenstein, no such royal decrees were ever issued. The "Belgian King" is reported as being a client of Mary Jeffries's "Rose Cottage" flagellation house and brothel in Hampstead, a suburb of London. Although frequently overlooked in modern times, Leopold was known in royal circles for his fondness for wearing women's clothing in his private residence. This never proved scandalous during his life as eccentricities amongst royals was common place and hidden from the public. (Wikipedia)