In a jaw-dropping interview, Belgian Prince Laurent, the brother of King Philippe, attempted to defend his colonialist grandfather King Leopold II — who turned the Congo into a slave state — after statues of the man were torn down and defaced this week.
“He never himself went to Congo — so I do not see how he could have made people there suffer,” Laurent told the Sudpresse agency.
“You should see what Leopold II has done for Belgium,” the tone-deaf prince added, according to The Telegraph. “He had parks built in Brussels and many other things.”
During Leopold’s 23-year rule of the Congo, which mercifully ended in 1908, millions of Congolese died during forced labor after they were sent to rubber plantations to work for the benefit of Belgium coffers.
King Leopold, considered a ruthless robber baron by historians, was eventually forced out of the Congo due to his atrocities.
Joseph Conrad wrote his 1902 horror novel, “The Heart of Darkness” based on the Congo during Leopold’s rule — and brought to light the atrocities committed. Six years after the publication of Conrad’s book and an international outcry over abuses, King Leopold was forced out of the Congo.
“There must be an acknowledgement that this was a problem in certain aspects,” Joachim Coens, chairman of the Flemish Christian Democrats, told the broadcaster VRT. Coens suggested the King himself should comment on his grandfather’s misdeeds.