Way Back When: A Royal Couple Makes Headlines Here
King Albert of Belgium was the toast of the town in October 1919 (Image: Library of Congress)
By Betsy J. Green
They were here for four days and generated a whopping 20 articles in the local papers in October 1919. This was definitely the highlight of the year for Santa Barbara. King Albert and Queen Elizabeth of Belgium were on a goodwill tour of the United States to give their thanks for American support during the World War in Europe, and Santa Barbara was one of their stops.
The royal couple and their attendants arrived on a special train composed of 12 cars on Saturday morning, October 11. “Never before in Santa Barbara’s history has there been as large a gathering of people at the station as which greeted the king and queen of Belgium … It was a very curious, cordial crowd in which were represented all the social sets of Santa Barbara, and her children of all ages, from infants-in-arms, to white-haired grandfathers and grandmothers.” Children were allowed to stand on the curb, and some youngsters climbed utility poles to get a glimpse of the royal party. It was estimated that 5,000 people lined the route, with some waving homemade Belgian flags.