APRIL 21, 1948
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Tuesday—On Sunday afternoon, I drove out to see Queen Mother Elizabeth, who lives in a lovely palace about half an hour's drive from the city. After tea, she showed me the beautiful greenhouses, which will be open to the public next month.
Stock geraniums grow along the sides of the passageways, and begonia plants hang down from the ceilings. The national flower of Belgium, the azalea, fills one whole greenhouse with a most marvelous show of color. There are also tropical plants and ferns in great hothouses, but it is the flowers which the Queen evidently enjoys—and I enjoyed them with her.
As is well known, Queen Elizabeth is a musician and an artist, so she showed me her studio. I had already admired a bronze head of a gardener which stands on a pedestal in one of the greenhouses, and she had told me that she herself had done it. Her studio is a fascinating place, filled with paintings and sculptured heads.
Her artistic gifts must have been a resource and comfort to her, not only in the loneliness which came after the death of her husband, but also during the trials and tragedies of the recent war years. My husband greatly admired both King Albert and Queen Elizabeth for what they did during World War I, and my visit with the Queen was a warm and delightful hour for me.
I carried away an armful of the most fragrant lilacs, which she handed me as I left. I shall think of her often in the days to come and hope that her country, through strengthening of the United Nations, will be one of the little countries living in freedom and without fear in the society of nations.
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The people of Belgium will always be grateful to Herbert Hoover, who did so much, during and after World War I, in relief work here and in other countries of Europe. Being a Quaker, Mr. Hoover was particularly well equipped for this type of work. He organized and administered magnificently relief and charity on a grand scale.
However, I have never felt that he had the breadth of vision for the future to enable him to understand the full significance of plans which are not strictly relief. Or perhaps he is too good an American business man to conceive and carry through a program for building up the economic strength of other countries, thus perhaps increasing competition for the United States.
I know that today there are a number of American business people who think with some apprehension of world development along such lines as will create competition for our own ability to produce. I am no economist but I believe that in the end all nations, to satisfy the needs of the world, must produce such things as each nation is best able to produce, and must distribute them in areas where they can best be distributed economically. If, through our ingenuity and inventions, we are able to produce certain things better and more cheaply than other nations can, then they should be available to people who need them.
Economy for the future, I think, must be conceived in broader terms than ever before and will be successful only if it is conceived on the basis of usefulness to the peoples of the world.
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At a luncheon I attended, the woman in charge of the women's section of the Belgian-American Association made a short speech in which she asked me to transmit to the people of the United States the appreciation of Belgian women for all that has been done for war orphans and the widows of men shot in the resistance movement, and for the many contributions made to Belgian relief during the war. I send this message through my column because I can think of no other way to distribute it more widely. Everywhere I go, I find much gratitude over here for the generosity of the American public.