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After presenting Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón to the Belgians, at the Castle of Ciergnon, King Baudouin repeated the Belgian tradition of the Joyeuses Entrées, during which the sovereign presented his fiancée to his subjects. If for the wedding of TRH the Prince and Princess of Liège there had only been three Joyeuses Entrées, for the King’s wedding all provinces would be visited and in each of them there was a triumphant welcome to Doña Fabiola, whose discreet elegance and her sweet, confident smile had already conquered all the Belgians.

See more pictures of the Arrival of Doña Fabiola

Before the wedding, Doña Fabiola returned to Spain, her homeland, where the demonstrations of affection from the always-affectionate Spanish people were also immense. Then it was time to head towards her future, towards her new country. As her plane arrived at Brussels airport, the dream started to unfold. The future Queen of the Belgians was arriving, and her loving fiancé entered the jet to welcome her, a definitive welcome. Wearing a long fur coat and a fur hat, she graciously went down the stairs of the plane to be greeted by officials and some children who have her a bouquet. In the airport and in the streets of Brussels, people had come to the streets to catch a glimpse of their future queen.

The official events surrounding the wedding started on the 10th December 1960, a Saturday, in the Palace of Laeken, with an official reception for 4200 people, followed by a buffet. Doña Fabiola was extremely elegant, with a light short dress with dark fur around the neck. King Baudouin wore his uniform of Lieutenant General of the Army. For the other guests, the dress code was short dress for women and morning coat for men. During more than one hour, the hundreds of guests, which included the members of the Diplomatic Corps and the members of Parliament as well as representatives from cultural, economic and other social organizations, bowed and curtsied to the King and Doña Fabiola.

See pictures of the Reception in the Royal Palace of Laeken

The official reception to the most important guests also marked the days before the wedding: at the Royal Palace of Brussels, there was a special welcome ceremony to the Spanish delegation to the wedding, during which the Marquis and the Marchioness of Villaverde presented Doña Fabiola with the present from Spain, a magnificent tiara of diamonds in form of aristocratic crown. It would be the jewel that Doña Fabiola would use in the two grand banquets held before the wedding, one offered by the Government of the Kingdom and another offered by the King at the Royal Palace.

On the evening of the 13th December, two nights before the wedding, the King of the Belgians offered a state banquet to all guests in the Royal Palace of Brussels. The 2000 guests were received by HM the King and Doña Fabiola, HM King Leopold and HRH the Princess of Réthy (his second wife), TRH the Prince and Princess of Liège, the Marchioness of Casa Riera, Doña Fabiola’s mother, and her other children. The grand banquet took place in the Throne Room and was followed by a grand ball, opened by the royal couple. All guests were stunned by the elegance of Fabiola, dressed my Madrid’s designer Marbel, who wore her new tiara for the first time that evening. The King was in uniform of Lieutenant General wearing the ribbon of the Belgian Order of Leopold and the collar of the Spanish Order of Isabella the Catholic.

The Spanish reference magazine ¡Hola! sent José Maria Bayona as a special representative to the wedding and he attended all the ceremonies, including the gala banquets. In his report, telling of what he saw, he remembered the Palace banquet: The banquet took place in the Throne Room and was delicately enriched by some of Mozart’s most famous pieces. The crystal chandeliers shone and the roses and carnations of Laeken fulfilled all the rooms with its subtle colours.

When the King and Doña Fabiola entered the room, conducting a long cortege of heads of state and representatives of many royal houses of Europe, all the other guests had already taken their places. At the end of the banquet, King Leopold made a brief speech in which he expressed that Doña Fabiola would be a precious help for King Baudouin. Afterwards, the guests left the Throne Room for the contiguous rooms, so that the table could be taken and the ball started. It would be the ball of the year, opened by the King and his fiancée. ¡Hola! wrote that the simple fact that the bridal couple opened the ball was enough to make it almost impossible to dance just a few minutes after, since so many couples came to the centre of the Throne Room.

After opening the ball, the King and Doña Fabiola mingled with their guests in the various rooms of the Palace, meeting and chatting to them. The ball would last until past 2.30 in the morning, with the buffets were still open for all guests. The Spanish magazine noticed how delighted Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom looked, how much Queen Juliana and the Hereditary couple of Luxembourg danced, how much joy it was possible to see in the faces of the King and his bride, the most beautiful of the evening.

See pictures of the State Banquet in the Royal Palace

See pictures of guests and identification of the jewels

On the eve of the wedding, the 14th of December, the couple gave their time to welcome the Spanish folkloric groups who would enchant Brussels the following day. Together with a group of students from the University of Madrid, they acted during the afternoon for the royal couple in the Royal Theatre of Brussels, being enthusiastically applauded. Afterwards, and before preparing for the state banquet offered by the Government, the couple attended yet another cultural event in the Fine Arts Theatre.

The most glittering event of the day would take place in the Museum of the Cinquantenaire: the State Banquet offered by the Government of the Kingdom to their King and his fiancée Doña Fabiola. The banquet was attended by all the heads of state and most of the guests who had attended the banquet in the Royal Palace the night before. Doña Fabiola choose again pale colours for the embroidery of her dress, and wore for the second time the tiara which had been offered to her in the name of the Spanish people. As it was a civilian banquet, the King wore a dress coat and wore the ribbon and star of the Order of Leopold.

The table occupied by the royal couple and the Prime Minister, amongst other guests, was placed in the middle of the room and decorated with white orchids with yellow centre. The rest of the tables has white and red carnations. At the end of the banquet, just at 10 pm, the royal couple left the Museum towards the Royal Palace, to prepare for the most important day of their lives, one of the most historic in Belgian history.

See more pictures of the State Banquet in the Museum of the Cinquantenaire

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