King of the Belgians
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Queen Soraya of Afghanistan in 1928: dressed in European clothes and refused to wear the Burqa during the royal tour of Europe.
Menu dated 8th February 1928
Dinner at the Palais de Bruxelles hosted by Their Majesties King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians in honour of a visit by Their Majesties King Amānullāh Khān and Queen Soraya of Afghanistan
A feast of Belgian specialities awaited the King and Queen of Afghanistan when they arrived in Belgium by train from Paris on 8th February 1928. Their arrival in Belgium was part of a six month grand royal tour of Europe that commenced at the end of November 1927.
By the time the Afghan King and Queen arrived in Belgium, they had already met, en route, with King Fawad of Egypt in Cairo; King Victor-Emanuel III of Italy along with his Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini; Pope Pius XI in the Vatican City; and President Doumergue of France.
This menus is from the dinner hosted by King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, at the Royal Palace in Brussels, in honour of the arrival of the King and Queen of Afghanistan; the Queen was already making sensational news headlines across Europe for choosing to wear European dress throughout the royal tour instead of the traditional Burqa.
The nine course dinner included some Belgian treats such as saddle of prê-salé: a regular feature on the dinner menus of the Belgian King. Prê-salé is the prized meat from lambs that have been grazed on the salty marshlands of Normandy and Brittany; their high consumption of salt making the meat, which benefits from ageing, more tender.
On the menu, the prê-salé is served alongside a dish of witlof – a traditional vegetable to the Belgians – before a dish of roast Brussels chickens (Poulardes de Bruxelles) is served. These prized Flemish chickens, which are fattened “Mechelse koekoek”, were served at the table in full plumage with striped white and grey feathers running all the way down to the bird’s feet.
Following their visit to Belgium, the King and Queen of Afghanistan travelled next to Germany to meet with President Hindenburg and then to Great Britain as guests of King George V and Queen Mary.
However this royal six month tour of Europe would prove to be the downfall of the Afghan King. While away, resistance to his rule intensified and upon the return of the King and Queen, they were quickly chased back out the country in 1929 as they went into exile: first to India, then Italy and ultimately to Switzerland.
Next Stop: After Belgium, the King of Afghanistan arrives in Berlin and is met by President Hindenburg (seated beside the King)