Queen Fabiola of Belgium

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Fabiola of Belgium 1969.jpg
Queen Fabiola on a state visit to Washington, D.C. in 1969
Queen consort of the Belgians
Tenure 15 December 1960 – 31 July 1993
Spouse Baudouin of Belgium
Full name
Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida
Father Gonzalo de Mora Fernández Riera del Olmo
Mother Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz Barroeta-Aldamar y Elío
Born (1928-06-11)11 June 1928
Zurbano Palace, Madrid, Spain[1]
Died 5 December 2014(2014-12-05) (aged 86)
Stuyvenberg Castle, Laeken, Belgium
Burial 12 December 2014
Church of Our Lady of Laeken
Religion Roman Catholicism

Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón;[nb 1] 11 June 1928 – 5 December 2014) was the wife of Baudouin, King of the Belgians. She was Queen consort of the Belgians for 33 years, between her wedding in 1960 and her husband's death in 1993. The couple were unable to have children, and the crown then passed to her husband's younger brother, King Albert II.

Early life[edit]

Fabiola de Mora y Aragón was born in Madrid, Spain, at the palacio Zurbano, the main residence of the Marques of Casa Riera.[1] She was born the sixth of seven children of Don Gonzalo de Mora y Fernández y Riera y del Olmo, 4th Marquess of Casa Riera, 2nd Count of Mora (1887–1957) and his wife, Doña Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz y Barroeta-Aldamar y Elío (1892–1981), Marchioness of Casa Torres,[2] Viscountess of Baiguer.[3] Her godmother was Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain.[4]

Before her marriage she published an album of 12 fairy tales (Los doce cuentos maravillosos), one of which ("The Indian Water Lilies") would get its own pavilion in the Efteling theme park in 1966.[5]


Queen Fabiola during her state visit in West Germany (Munich, 1971)

On 15 December 1960, Fabiola married Baudouin, who had been King of the Belgians since the abdication of his father, Leopold III, in 1951.[6][7] At the marriage ceremony in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, she wore a 1926 Art Deco tiara that had been a gift of the Belgian state to her husband's mother, Astrid of Sweden, upon her marriage to Leopold III. Her dress of satin and ermine was designed by the couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Fabiola was a hospital nurse at the time of her engagement; TIME magazine, in its 26 September 1960, issue, called Doña Fabiola the "Cinderella Girl" and described her as "an attractive young woman, though no raving beauty" and "the girl who could not catch a man."[8] On the occasion of her marriage, Spanish bakers set out to honor Fabiola and created a type of bread, "la fabiola", which is still made and consumed on a daily basis in many Spanish cities.

The explorer Guido Derom named Queen Fabiola Mountains – a newly discovered range of Antarctic mountains – in her honour in 1961.[9] She also has several varieties of ornamental plants named after her.

The royal couple had no children, as the queen's five pregnancies ended in miscarriage. There are reports, however, that she had a stillborn child in the mid 1960s. Fabiola openly spoke about her miscarriages in 2008: 'You know, I myself lost five children. You learn something from that experience. I had problems with all my pregnancies, but you know, in the end I think life is beautiful'.[10]

Queen dowager[edit]

Queen Fabiola during a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral in 2007

Baudouin died in 1993 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Albert II. Fabiola moved out of the Royal Palace of Laeken to the more modest Stuyvenberg Castle and reduced her public appearances in order not to overshadow her sister-in-law, Queen Paola.

Admired for her devout Roman Catholicism and involvement in social causes particularly those related to mental health, children's issues and women's issues,[11] Queen Fabiola received the 2001 Ceres Medal, in recognition of her work to promote rural women in developing countries. The medal was given by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). She was also honorary president of King Baudouin Foundation.

Health issues[edit]

Queen Fabiola was hospitalised with pneumonia on 16 January 2009, and spent 15 days there, with her condition being described as "serious".[12] She subsequently made a good recovery and was attending public functions by the following May. In July 2009, anonymous death threats were published by newspapers. According to these Queen Fabiola was to be shot with a crossbow. She responded to the threats during the Belgian national holiday celebrations on 21 July by waving an apple to the crowd – a reference to the William Tell folk tale.[13] Subsequent threats by an individual said to have a similar signature to the July 2009 threat-writer were received again in January 2010.[14]

Tax avoidance claims[edit]

In January 2013, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo criticised Queen Fabiola for her plans to set up a private foundation (Fons Pereos), which was widely seen by the public as inheritance tax evasion (although, since the construction was admitted by Di Rupo to be legal, it would more precisely be a case of tax avoidance). The Queen denied the charges, claiming that the funds used were "her private money", and that most of her annual public stipend was used for housekeeping and staff wages.[15][16]

Linguistic skills[edit]

According to official sources, Queen Fabiola was fluent in French, Dutch, English, German and Italian, in addition to her native Spanish.[17]

Death and funeral[edit]

The Belgian Flag Halfmast
The Royal coffin arrived at the Palace

Queen Fabiola had been in poor health for years, suffering from osteoporosis, as well as having never fully recovered from a lung inflammation she had in 2009. On the evening of 5 December 2014, the Royal Palace announced that Queen Fabiola had died at Stuyvenberg Castle.[18]

The federal government declared a period of national mourning from Saturday 6 December to Friday 12 December, the day when the funeral of Queen Fabiola took place at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels.[19]

The Queen was greeted with open coffin in the Royal Palace by the Royal Family, the government and the Lord Speaker on 10 December. A guard of honour was formed by generals and members of the Royal Military household of the King. The coffin was placed in the grand antechamber, and decorated with flowers.[20] The Requiem Mass was conducted by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Metropolitan Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

The funeral was attended by members of various royal families around the world including the Empress of Japan, Queen of Denmark, King and Queen of Sweden, King of Norway accompanied by his sister Princess Astrid, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein. No members of the British Royal Family or the Monegasque Princely Family attended the funeral, which caused criticism by both national and international press.[21][22]


Fabiola's monogram
  • 11 June 1928 – 15 December 1960: Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón
  • 15 December 1960 – 31 July 1993: Her Majesty The Queen of the Belgians
  • 31 July 1993 – 5 December 2014: Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of Belgium


See also : List of honours of the Belgian Royal Family by country

Belgian honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

   State honours
ESP Isabella Catholic Order GC.svg Spain Spain Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic (22/11/1960) [23]
Ribbon.Crossproecclesiaetpontifice.jpg Holy See Holy See Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (08/06/1961) [24][25][26]
25th Anniversary Medal 1971.gif Iran Iran Commemorative Medal of the 2500th Anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire (14/10/1971) [27][28]
PRT Order of Christ - Grand Cross BAR.png Portugal Portugal Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (24/08/1982) [29]
Red ribbon bar - general use.svg Spain Spain Dame of the Solar de Tejada (03/10/2009) [30]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is De Mora and the second or maternal family name is Aragón.


  1. ^ a b "Del palacio Zurbano de Madrid a ser reina de los Belgas". Hola.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  2. ^ http://geneall.net/es/ancestors/7003/fabiola-de-mora-y-aragon/
  3. ^ "Queen Fabiola of the Belgians – obituary". Daily Telegraph. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Elliott, Annabel Fenwick. "Belgium's former Queen Fabiola dies at the age of 86". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "De Indische waterlelies". Efteling.com. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Belgium's dowager queen Fabiola dies aged 86". BBC. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Baudouin I". Britannica.com. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "BELGIUM: Cinderella Girl". 26 September 1960. Retrieved 5 December 2014.  (subscription required)
  9. ^ "Antarctica Detail". Geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Auteur: jns (21 April 2008). "Koningin Fabiola had vijf miskramen". Nieuwsblad.be. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  11. ^ "Queen Fabiola, Belgium's former queen, dies aged 86". GlobalPost. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Belgium: Queen Fabiola in serious condition with pneumonia". Ynetnews.com. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  13. ^ "Belgium's cool Queen Fabiola defies would-be assassins with jokey apple gesture". Hellomagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  14. ^ "Queen Fabiola's death threats". Monstersandcritics.com. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  15. ^ "Belgium PM slams queen over inheritance plan". Aljazeera.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Belgian monarchy rocked by Queen Fabiola tax row". Telegraph.co.uk. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Belgian Monarchy". Monarchie.be. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Bart Van Belle. "Koningin Fabiola overleden". De Standaard. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "7 days of national mourning installed". Flandersnews.be. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Koningspaar groet koningin Fabiola". HLN. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  21. ^ Veel hoge gasten, maar geen Britse royals in Brussel
  22. ^ Belgium's royals join European monarchs as they bid farewell to Queen Fabiola | Daily Mail Online
  23. ^ "16674 Newspaper Cutting" (PDF). Boe.es. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "GABINETE DE PROTOCOLO: LOS ESTADOS DE LA UNION EUROPEA: BÉLGICA". Gabinetedeprotocolo.blogspot.com.es. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "Photo with Pope John XIII" (JPG). 2.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "News, Notes & Texts – from the Tablet Archive". Thetablet.co.uk. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "Grand State Banquet". badraie.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Photograph" (JPG). Badraie.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "CIDADOS ESTRANGEIROS AGRACIADOS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS – Pgina Oficial das Ordens Honorficas Portuguesas". Presidencia.pt. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Indice de appelidos" (PDF). Solardetejada.es. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

Belgian royalty
Title last held by
Astrid of Sweden
Queen consort of the Belgians
Succeeded by
Paola Ruffo di Calabria