“Albert, my nephew,
Listen! To seduce a queen,
Flash her some sweet leg.”
Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was crowned the very first King of Belgium 187 years ago today. In the other timeline, he was the King, or probably Prince Consort, of England.
He was born in 1790 in one of the many German duchies that were the spouse hunting grounds for all the royal families of Europe. Leopold knew this and furthermore, knew he was a hot piece of ass. So he aimed for the stars, if by ‘stars’, you mean, ‘Princess Charlotte, the only legitimate child of the future George IV’. Once she got a good look at him, she ditched her engagement with the Prince of Orange and put a ring on Leopold instead. Then she got knocked up. There was much rejoicing.
Except. Remember the state of medicine at the time. Princess Charlotte died a day after giving birth to a stillborn son, partly due to doctor incompetence. There was much sorrow. She was much more popular than her dad.
But when his niece, the future Queen Victoria, and his nephew, the future Prince Albert were born, Leopold knew what he had to do: groom Albert to be the perfect husband for his cousin Vicky. He succeeded in spades, cultivating intelligence and a sick bod and curbing the family tendency to manwhoreishness. Vicky couldn’t resist and Leopold continued to give avuncular advice to the happy couple from then on.
But he had more going on than ‘matchmaker’. After a torrid affair with an actress, he was offered and then refused the Greek crown. Then Belgium broke from the Netherlands and thought they ought to have a king too. Leo wasn’t on the initial shortlist, but he wound up with the job anyway. Seems he did pretty well. Got through the 1848 upsets all right, served as a useful mediator for the other European powers, given he was related to most of them.
Leopold died in 1865, leaving his son Leopold II to succeed him – you know, the king infamous for murdering half the population of the Congo.