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As Belgium prepares to celebrate the birth of its future sovereign, the child of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, we take the opportunity to launch a new website, recalling the most glorious moment of Belgian royal history in the 20th century: the wedding of a lonely, sad and pious king, to a loving and devoted noblewoman, a true noble not only of blood but especially of heart and soul. It was described then, back in 1960, by French reference magazine Paris Match as “more than a wedding, an homage to the wedding” and “the simplest and most moving of all weddings”.

Since his enthronement, in 1951, following the abdication of his father King Leopold III, marking the end of the difficult Question Royale – also a mark, but a sad one, on Belgian 20th century history –, King Baudouin I of the Belgians had seen magazines all over the world and most expressly the Belgian Court trying to find a bride for the most solitary of kings, whose face always looked so immensely sad. Balls attended by noblewomen and princesses, meetings to see if a glimpse would catch King Baudouin, and everything seemed not to work. Then, when everyone was still remembering the grand wedding of HRH the Prince of Liège – Prince Albert, King Baudouin’s young brother and next in line to succeed to the Belgian throne – to the beautiful Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria – an Italian princess from the high aristocracy, tipped as la dolce Paola by the media of the whole world – the news came as a new ray of light: on television and radio, the Prime Minister announced the engagement of His Majesty the King of the Belgians to Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish noblewoman, two years older than the King.

Years of rumours and expectation had come to a close. The King had chosen his future wife and had maintained the romance as a true state secret, unveiling it when no one was expecting it. And the demonstrations of happiness from the Belgian people were immense, throughout the days after the presentation and during the traditional Joyeuses Entrées (the presentation of the future consort) in the various provinces of the Kingdom. It seemed that Baudouin had gone out to the light, he had retrieved his happiness, and he was the happiest of kings. Doña Fabiola, with her Spanish accent and discreet elegance delighted crowds and conquered the hearts of her future husband’s subjects.

This site is made not only as a commemoration of the birth of the heir of Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, but also as a homage to the late King Baudouin and a tribute to his beloved wife, the perfect model of a royal consort. We cannot hide a great personal admiration for the late sovereign, deceased in July 1993, whose reign we consider a momentous one in European royal history of the 20th century. We cannot also hide an immense respect and esteem for Her Majesty Queen Fabiola, who played the most difficult role while being somehow blamed for not having given an heir to the Belgian throne. Together they formed the strongest and most adored royal couple; alone Fabiola symbolises that the affection of a people towards a royal family does go past esteem, it may be, and it is in her case, real love.

The wedding, in the cold Brussels of December 1960, is regarded as one of the most pompous and above all romantic events of the 20th century, one of the few times in one hundred years that an actual sovereign was marrying, and concretely the first time that a Belgian sovereign was marrying in Belgian soil. Belgians made it an unforgettable day, displaying their love, their respect, their admiration and their gratitude. Those who were on the cold streets of Brussels, on that day, will never forget the warmth of Fabiola’s smile, the clear tenderness between a man and a woman, whose love was evident for all.

Throughout these pages, we will recall the celebrations held in honour of the royal couple, the solemnity of the civil and religious ceremonies of the wedding, the happiness of the Belgian people, the guests who joined the happiness of a whole country. And we do so, now, as the spiritual heir of King Baudouin, his nephew Prince Philippe, is about to give the Belgian throne the heir that Queen Fabiola was not, to her and her husband’s great anguish, able to give. And on doing so, we salute the memory of a great man, a great king and a great husband, His Majesty the late King Baudouin I of the Belgians.

October 2001, the Editors

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