Gemeente De Panne

Bust of King Albert I EN

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Title               Bust of King Albert I
Design           Unknown, cast by Monique Mol using a plaster model
Material          Bronze
Installation     1990
Location         Koningsplein, corner with Koninklijke Baan
Information    Donated by Comité Monument Koning Albert I

King Albert, the great-grandfather of our current King Philippe, regularly stayed with his family at Zeedijk in De Panne. The princely couple were photographed on the beach in 1904 and at other times. In 1909, Prince Leopold II became the new king of Belgium. But it was not to be an easy task. On 4 August 1914 the German army invaded our country and we became caught up in the First World War. The king stayed in the army and made his headquarters in De Panne, the last piece of our country that was not taken over by the Germans.

Near the current Leopold I monument, four imposing, empty town-houses owned by prosperous families that had fled abroad, were given a temporary new role. The Paviljoen Bortier became a storage space. Villa de Terschueren was used by officers and also accommodated important guests who came to visit the royal family. Villa Paul Maskens was the residence of the royal family and the Villa Saint-Joseph was inhabited by Portuguese nuns during the war who set up a school for orphans at the behest of Queen Elisabeth.

After the ceasefire in 1918, the king returned to Brussels. The First World War turned King Albert I into a hero. As Commander-in-Chief of the Belgian army, he won the Battle of the Yser and thus delayed German progress at a strategic moment.