Castle of Belgium’s exiled King Leopold III is up for sale
Friday, 11 October 2019
The Château d'Argenteuil, where controversial King Leopold III lived out his last days, has been put up for sale. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The castle where Belgium’s former king Leopold III lived out his last days after his abdication has been put on the market, with the asking price totalling a whopping €20 million.
Located in the heart of the Sonian Forest, the Château d’Argenteuil went to the Belgian state after the monarch’s death in 1983 and that of Lilian Baels, his second wife and Princess of Réthy, in 2002.
The castle was sold to businessman Jean-Marie Delwart, who acquired it in 2004 in a dilapidated state for just under €8 million, according to RTBF.
The roughly 140-hectare domain was the late royal couple’s refuge for years, after a string of controversial actions from World War II culminated in Leopold’s abdication in favour of his son Baudouin.
His controversial marriage with the princess of Réthy, carried out in secret, and accusations that he had collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation gravely divided the country.
After choosing to remain in Belgium during the Nazi occupation while the government fled to London, Leopold was held captive in the castle of Laeken and later deported to Germany under Nazi orders in 1944.
He and his family lived in exile in Switzerland for years, before being allowed back, but the prospect of his return sparked fierce opposition and saw one of the most violent general strikes in the history of Belgium take place in 1950.
Upon his return, Leopold and his family, settled in Argenteuil. The opulent property has reportedly roused the interest of heads of state such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin or former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
A journalist who was allowed to visit the grounds said that the entryway to the castle offer a “magical transition” from the Sonian Forest, with an insignia of two entwined Ls carved onto the gates, according to VRT.
The journalist also described seeing the “poshest cars,” and said the domain was outfitted with a golf course and deer statues.