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Portrait of Leopold II, King of Belgium, seated wearing a suit
King Leopold II ruled Belgium from 1865 until 1909. He has been remembered in history as the founder and infamous exploiter of the Congo Free State. King Leopold was away when the Grants arrived in Belgium. However, once he had returned he called on the Grants at their hotel. Later, King Leopold II received General Grant with a grand dinner at his palace. Here the Grants also met Marie Henriette, Queen consort of Belgium. Leopold II was particularly interested in discussing potential commercial ties between Belgium and America. He spoke with Grant about his plans to construct a shipping line from Antwerp to various American ports. King Leopold II treated Grant as an equal sovereign. Understanding they would only be staying a few days, he made the effort to invite them immediately to the palace to meet the Queen. Catering to the preferences of Grant who preferred comfort over the stiff etiquette of Europe’s royal courts, the dinner was informal. Guests were to arrive in “frock dress” rather than evening attire and the evening would be conducted with more relaxed etiquette. At dinner, the Grants were given an honorable seat by the King and Queen.
Ulysses Grant Dietz
W and D. Downey, London Studio, 57and61 Ebury St. Eaton Square, England
Mississippi State University Libraries (electronic version).
Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University Libraries.
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