07 December 2014

Sunday Tidbits for December 7: Queen Fabiola, 1928-2014

Queen Fabiola of Belgium, widow of King Baudouin, died Friday at Stuyvenberg Castle in Brussels. She was 86 years old. Today's Sunday Tidbits are devoted entirely to the late queen, with pictures, videos, links to past features on this blog, and links to a few features in her memory elsewhere.
Baudouin and Fabiola
--The Telegraph's obituary details her journey from Spanish aristocrat and nurse to Queen of the Belgians, and how she and Baudouin became completely devoted to one another through it all, even their (ultimately unsuccessful) struggles to have a child.

The couple at their pre-wedding gala

--They married on December 15, 1960, and Fabiola's gown was a monumental creation that we have covered in depth in the past. Since Baudouin was already king, she went straight into her position as Queen of the Belgians, and the dress reflects that with its grand scale and regal use of fur trim. It was made by the great couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, a fellow Spaniard.

Video: British Pathé newsreel coverage of the wedding

--Queen Fabiola donated her gown to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, and it can be admired at the Balenciaga museum in Spain. [Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa]

Queen Sofia of Spain views Fabiola's wedding gown while at the official opening of the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum

--At the wedding, Fabiola wore the Nine Provinces Tiara, which was given to her by her father-in-law, King Leopold III. This is the one Belgian tiara that has really been designated the queen's tiara - Fabiola passed it on to the next queen, Paola, after Baudouin died, and it has now been passed on to Mathilde.

Video: Scenes from the wedding, in color

--The Nine Provinces Tiara was one of three tiaras she wore and they've all been covered here individually. The other two remained in her possession: the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara, an extremely flexible piece that could be worn with different stones and in two different tiara configurations plus as a necklace and separate elements, and the smaller Wolfers Necklace Tiara, which could also (as the name states) be used as a necklace. Both were wedding gifts.

Using a piece of the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara on her necklace, 1978

--As for what will happen to Fabiola's estate, the palace confirmed reports that she left it to charity - specifically, to the Queen's Charities (Ouvres de la Reine). But they declined to share further details, as it is a private matter. It is of note, though, since her attempts to use a foundation to secure some of her assets in the past couple years resulted in accusations of tax dodging. The government cut her allowance in response to the uproar, and she abandoned her plans for the foundation. It speaks volumes about Fabiola, I think, that her solution was to give it to those that need it.

Fabiola dancing, just to put a smile on your face

--VTM offers a lengthy documentary feature on Queen Fabiola's life. Lovely and interesting footage, even if you don't speak the language.

--Fabiola was aunt to King Philippe and also to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Luxarazzi has Henri's official note of condolence.

--The Royal Hats Blog is posting on the late queen's hat style. She was known more for her serious devotion to one hairstyle than for her hats, I suppose, but she has some major millinery statements in her past. In the past few years, she was prone to ditching the hats, and the tiaras too. She made her own dress code. And to an extent, she had always done so - she may have had tiaras, but she notably avoided wearing almost all orders.

At the Spanish royal wedding, 2004

--And finally, Queen Fabiola's funeral will be held on Friday, December 12, at 10 a.m. in Brussels at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. She will be greatly missed!

Photos: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons,  Getty Images as indicated