Belgian Royalty: Leopold III's Clothes

Leopold and his brother Charles were always smartly outfitted by their mother. They may have been two of the best dressed European princes. Unlike the British princes of about the same period they did not just alternate between sailor suits and kilts.Elizabeth believed in dressing her children very fashionably. The boys were often outfitted in Fautleroy suits and lacey blouses with frilly collars for dress occasions. Their mother liked to dress the boys in matching or identical outfits. Presumably she was influenced in her fashion tastes by her chilhood in the Bavarian court.


The headwear Prince Leopold wears most commonly is different styles of wide-nrimmed sailor hats. As a young boy he wears the traditional wide brimmed sailor hat before and after he is breeched. As an older boys his wide brimmed sailor hat are sometimes tirnmed down to give a jauntuy look, although they are worn properly turned up for more formal occasions. We have also noted him wrearing soft sailor caps. One image of Leopold in a satin suit shows him holding a hat of some kind, but we can not make it out very well.


The boys when they were young were outfitted in dresses, as was still the fashion in the years before World War I. This seems to be the case, however, while they were still quite young. I have no written information on this, but available photographs suggest that Elizabeth appears to have breeched the boys by the time they were about 4 years of age.

Fauntleroy Suits

Elizabeth appears to have liked velvet Fauntleroy suits with ruffled colors. The boys appear to have worn them at least through about 10 years of age. They could have worn them longer. Photographs show them still outfitted in frilly blouses at about 12 or 13 years of age. I'm not sure if they were still wearing Fauntleroy suits at that age. Their Fauuntleroy suits were worn with ruffled rather than lace collars and without bows. This reflects the changing fashion trends with lace collars becoming less popular after the turn of the century. One velvet Fauntleroy suit had kneepants and was worn with long stockings. I do not know if they had any velvet kneepants pants.

Fancy Suits

While not quite Fauntleroy suits, the boys when they were younger wore light colored suits trimmed in lace and ruffles. They appear to have been comfortable outfits with open collars. There were two versions of these suits. One with a skirt bottom and another as they got older with kneepants. I'm not sure what material these suits were done in. There were Fauntleroy suits done in velvet as well as satin suits, but some of these francy suits done when Leopold was younger appear to be in some other material. They appear to be made in a variety of pastel colors, but I am unsure as to just what colors. These suits done for Leopold as a younger boy were kneepants suits and worn with both three-quarter and long stockings. These were worn before Leopold had his hair cut shorter, but he continued wearing them for a few years after his hair was cut.

Satin Suits

Leopold wore a variety of satin suits. The suits themselves were rather basic, but they were worn with a variety of blouses give the outfits rather fancy appearances. As a younger boy these suits were kneepants and suits with bery fancy blouses. As an older boy, he wore knicker-length pants with plain, but often very large, some times elonggated collars. Most these satin suits had open collars. We never note them worn with bows. Many seem similar to those worn by the Bavarian royals at about the same time. These outfits were commonly worn with court shoes. We have noted both light and dark colored suits, but we have no idea as to just what colors these suits were.

Figure 3.--This also looks like Leopold. Notice the large collar, while plain, it still looks rather juvenile on such an old boy. We are not sure what color this blouse was.

Fancy Blouses

Photographs show the boys wearing large, open collar blouses to a fairly advanced age. We believe that they are blouses--although it is possible that they could be pinned on collars. Some appear to have matching wrist trim. They always seemed to have these often large, but comfortable looking open collars. Some were famcy while others are rather plain if very large. Some were ruffled and others were delicte lace. I have not noticed them wearing fancy closed collor blouses or blouses with bows. Their mothers seems to have been very fond of these fancy blouses with ruffled collars, lace, or other fancy work. Many of these blouces seem to have very large, rather childish collars. The boys look to still be wearing them at about 13 or so. We are not prescisely sure what the conventions were for wearing these blouses. Presumably these were putfits for special occassions, but we are rather surprised they did not wear more formal suits for formal occassions.

Figure 4.--I believe this is Leopold. Like other European royals, he and his brother Charles commonly wore sailor suits--even though Belgium had no significant navy. Notice the floppy hats.

Sailor Suits

The boys also wore sailor suits, both blue and white ones. They were traditionally styled with the three stripes most often worn with sailor suits. And as with so many of their outfits, they often wore identical ones. I'm not sure if they wore sailor suits when they were very young. A picture of Charles at about 5 years shows him in a blue long pants sailor suit with Leopold wearing an identical sduit. I'm not sure at what age Leopold began wearing them, presumably earlier. Some of their sailor suits were worn with wide-brimmed sasilor hats. I'm not sure if they wore their sailor suits with long pants, kneepants or short pants. Possibly all three at different ages or seasonally.

Military Uniform

Soon after World War I began in 1914, Leopold began wearing a military uniform, often plain field uniforms. The earliestvphotograph we have is of him in a field uniform is in 1916. This was only a couple years or so after he was still wearing fancy blouses and constituted quite a dramatic cahange.


We notice Prince Leopold at about age 12 wearing a cape with a fancy knichers suit. We do not know for sure, but we don't think that yhis is a costume. It appears that this is an outfit that Leopold actually wore and not a fancy dress costume. It seems rarther old fashioned, but apparently is how Leopold dressed. We do not know how commonly he wore caps and fancy outfits like this. This cold have been for a special event. Or perhaps he dressed like this more commonly. This we do not yet know. We suspect he had a coat for more informal wear.


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: 8:52 PM 11/19/2008