855.001 Leopold/6–1645: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Sawyer) to the Secretary of State

802. King is coming back and will arrive in Brussels early next week, perhaps Monday.76 He will come alone except for Pirenne, who accompanied Van Acker but remained behind when Van Acker returned last night. This morning Van Acker will ask SHAEF to furnish a plane immediately for King’s return.

I talked at length with Van Acker last night shortly after he arrived. Substance of his report is this: King, upon seeing him, said he had made up his mind to return. Van Acker did not attempt to dissuade him. He did review briefly difficulties which he had covered fully on his previous visit. King is prepared to meet them. He has, however, in his mind idea of possible abdication if difficulties prove too great for him to govern. Van Acker feels the influence of King’s wife is involved in his decision to return. As I see course of events based on Van Acker’s statements of fact and predictions as to future, it will be as follows:

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King will return and go privately to Royal Palace at Laeken. He will then immediately convoke Parliament and will address them and through them the Belgian people. Pirenne, his former tutor and an historian, is now assisting King in preparing the speech he will deliver. A preliminary draft was shown Van Acker. He said it consisted mostly of generalities. Thereafter King will ask Van Acker to form a Govt. Van Acker will try but will not succeed as Socialists, Liberals and Communists will not participate. King will then call some one else, presumably a Catholic, to form a Govt. If a Govt wholly Catholic results country will be beset with strikes and other troubles and will not function. Troubles will grow in number and intensity. It will appear that King does not have support of country to carry on a Govt. Behind-scenes negotiations will take place with reference to some financial settlement on King and he will then abdicate in favor of his son, Prince Baudouin. Parliament will then immediately meet and reappoint Charles regent. Latter will have automatically ceased to be regent when King arrives in Belgium.

This prediction of Van Acker may not be fulfilled. King may handle matters more effectively than is generally predicted. This we shall see. If King abdicates one of problems will be the education of the young prince. British Ambassador confided to me some time ago that he thought he would probably have the job of finding a school for him in England. He may be taking too much for granted as Van Acker seems to think the young prince should travel and not spend all time in one country.

Van Acker refused give any statement whatever to press. Interest and excitement here is intense.

  1. June 18.