The Belgian Royal Family helped Poland during the war with Soviet Russia. This assistance was initiated by Elisabeth Gabrielle, the wife of Albert I, King of Belgium. She organized a public fund-raising campaign in order to finance the purchase of medicines and medical equipment. Particularly valuable to the Polish Army was her idea of financing medical trains and field hospitals for the soldiers wounded at the front, thus saving thousands of officers and soldiers. In Belgium, postcards with the Queen’s photo and signature were sold and the profits were transferred to help the war-disabled in Poland. Extremely valuable at the time were medicines against typhus and food for the homeless children’s shelters.
For her services to Poland, Queen Elisabeth received the highest Polish distinction, the Order of the White Eagle and the Cross of Valour, both established in 1920. It was an extremely rare case of honouring a woman with the Polish war decoration. Queen’s activity was supported by King Albert I and Prince Leopold Filip, the heir to the throne. King Albert I commanded the Belgian Army during the Great War and his son fought at the front as an infantry soldier. The material, moral and diplomatic support of the Belgian Royal Family was a symbol of the unity of the monarchy as well as the Belgian society towards Poland resisting the Bolshevik invasion.
For his services to the Polish nation King Albert I was also awarded the Order of the White Eagle and the Grand Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari. In 1922, the Cross of Valour was awarded to Prince Leopold and a few years later he was also honoured with the Order of the White Eagle. It was a way for Poland to demonstrate its sincere gratitude and recognition to the Belgian Royal Family and thus to all Belgians.
Photo: Elizabeth Gabriela Valeria Maria Wittelsbach, Queen of the Belgians, wife of the King of the Belgians, Albert I, photo from World War I. Source: Wikimedia Commons