A gruesome souvenir that was taken from King Albert’s death site over 80 years ago, has been deemed authentic. After a series of DNA tests, experts have come to the conclusion that these leaves are actually stained with the Belgium King’s blood.
Over the years, many theories have surfaced claiming that King Albert was actually a victim of murder and not in a climbing accident. King Albert ruled until his death in 1909. Albert was known for the critical role he played in World War I. After refusing to let German troops come through Belgium in order to attack France, people have celebrated Albert ever since. King Albert was very passionate about mountain climbing. On February 17th, 1934, Albert died while he was climbing alone near Marche-les-Dames. His body was later found near the bottom of the cliff. Albert was only 58 when he fell to his death.
His death shocked the public, many citizens fled to death site to pay their respects, but also view the spectacle. In an article published by the Associated Press in 1934, the article states that the rock where Albert had fell was surrounded by barbed wire. This was done in order to protect any curious visitors. The article also states that the scene had become a spectacle for many. While others scavenged, the article states that onlookers, “plucked bare of stones, leaves, branches, and everything else removable by souvenir hunters.”
In 2013 during an auction, one journalist brought a series of bloodstained leaves that were supposedly from the death site. An investigation was immediately put on in order to figure out whether or not these leaves came from King Albert’s death site. Two of Albert’s living relatives agreed to help get to the bottom of these mysterious leaves. The two relatives are known as King Simeon II who is the former prime minister of Bulgaria. And Anna Maria Freifrau von Haxthausen who is a German baroness. The two relatives gave their DNA samples that were then compared to the blood samples on the leaves. Geneticist Maarten Larmuseau states that “We found that the blood is indeed that of Albert I.”
Over the years, rumors have circulated about King Albert’s death and whether or not he died in a climbing accident. Many theories suggest that Albert either killed himself or was actually murdered. Due to the lack of eyewitnesses, many theories suggest that Albert was never even near Marche-les-Dames. These theories state that King Albert’s body was actually moved to the place where he was found after he had suffered a blow to the head.
Researchers have finally been able to put rumors about King Albert’s death to rest. Larmuseau states that, “Eighty years after the fact, everyone involved has passed away, and most material is gone. We will probably never be able to dismiss all speculations concerning this ‘cold case.’ The story that the dead body of the king has never been in March-les-Dames or was only place there at night has now become very improbable. Furthermore, the results show that conducting a perfect legal investigation at the time was impossible right from the start, because souvenir hunters had disturbed the scene.”
Protecting this sensitive information has been very important to researchers. They have not published any of the personal DNA information. However, you can read more about their findings in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics.