Leopold III Betrays His Own Kingdom of Belgium

the foolish and self-centered Leopold III in 1934.

Rather than leave his country with his senior government ministers and create a Belgium government-in-exile, King Leopold III chose to stay and surrender the country and the army to the Germans.

As King, he was the official Commander-in-Chief of the army. He functioned in this position rather than have professional military officers command the army. This was foolish but Leopold III was a foolish, stubborn, and stupid man. He had also usurped powers of the civilian government

On 24 May 1940, he met with his senior ministers and announced he was going to surrender the army and the country. This provoked a strong argument with the Prime Minister who repeatedly, loudly, and in the strongest possible way told the king that surrendering to the Germans was a decision of the duly elected civilian government and not within the King’s authority.

HM KING GEORGE VI WITH THE BRITISH LIBERATION ARMY IN BELGIUM, OCTOBER 1944 (TR 2414) HM King George VI with Prince Charles, Regent of Belgium. The King lunched with the Prince at the Headquarters of the Canadian Army in Belgium. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205124012

His senior ministers ordered the King to go with them to form a government-in-exile and he refused. Three days later on 27 May 1940, without informing his ministers who had escaped to Paris, or informing Lord Gort, C-in-C of the British Expeditionary Force, he surrendered to the Germans and in doing so uncovered the flank of the British Army.

The senior ministers went to Great Britain as France was collapsing and established a government-in-exile which was recognized by the Allies as the legitimate government of Belgium. The Prime Minister publically denounced the decision of the King, said it was unconstitutional and that Leopold had basically committed treason. Churchill denounced him the British House of Commons.

When the Allies reached Brussels, Leopold, who had been taken to Germany by the SS was officially removed from the throne and his brother, Prince Charles, was appointed Regent by the reconstituted civil government. After years in exile while his brother served as Regent, he returned to violent protests and abdicated.