Fabiola of Belgium

Fabiola de Mora y Aragón

Queen Fabiola on a state visit to Washington, D.C. in 1969
Queen consort of the Belgians
Tenure 15 December 1960 – 31 July 1993
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
Spouse Baudouin of the Belgians
Full name
Fabiola Fernanda María-de-las-Victorias Antonia Adelaida
Father Gonzalo de Mora Fernández Riera del Olmo, Marqués de Casa Riera
Mother Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz Barroeta-Aldamar y Elío
Religion Roman Catholicism

Fabiola de Mora y Aragón (11 June 1928 – 5 December 2014) was Queen of the Belgians from her marriage to King Baudouin in 1960 until his death in 1993. The couple had no children, so the Crown passed to her husband's younger brother, King Albert II.

Early life

Fabiola de Mora y Aragón was born in Madrid, Spain, at the Palacio Zurbano, the main residence of the Marqués de Casa Riera.[1] She was the sixth of seven children of Don Gonzalo de Mora y Fernández y Riera y del Olmo, 4th Marqués de 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), daughter of the 6th Marchioness of Casa Torres[2] and 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 honour Fabiola and created a type of bread, "la fabiola", which is still made and consumed daily in many Spanish cities.

The explorer Guido Derom named the 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

Queen Fabiola during a visit to the Barcelona Cathedral with Knight Jacques Beruck in 2007

Baudouin died in late July 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 so as 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 the King Baudouin Foundation.

Health issues

Queen Fabiola was hospitalised for 15 days with pneumonia beginning 16 January 2009, with her condition described as "serious".[12] She subsequently recovered and began attending public functions the following May. In July 2009, the Belgian press published news of anonymous death threats she received stating she would be shot with a crossbow. She responded to the threats during Belgian National Day celebrations by waving an apple to the crowd in 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

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

The Belgian Flag Halfmast

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

Illness and death

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 Royal coffin arriving at the Royal Palace

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 Royal Family, members of the government and the Lord Speaker received the coffin at the Royal Palace on 10 December where it was placed in the grand antechamber, where it was decorated with flowers and attended by an honour guard of generals, members of the King's Royal Military household.[20] Godfried Cardinal Danneels, Metropolitan Archbishop-emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, celebrated the Requiem Mass.

Members of several 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, Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein and Empress Farah of Iran, attended the funeral. No members of the British Royal Family or the Monegasque Princely Family attended the funeral, leading to criticism by both Belgian and international press.[21][22]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Funeral of Queen Fabiola of Belgium.


Royal Monogram of Queen Fabiola
of Belgium
Alliance Coat of Arms of King Baudouin
and Queen Fabiola
Dual Cypher of King Baudouin and
Queen Fabiola of the Belgians
Dual Cypher of King Baudouin and
Queen Fabiola of the Belgians

Titles, styles and honours



National honours

Foreign honours


See also



    1. 1 2 "Del palacio Zurbano de Madrid a ser reina de los Belgas" [Madrid Zurbano Palace resident became queen of the Belgians]. ¡Hola!. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    2. "Ascendientes de Fabiola de Mora y Aragon *1928 †2014" [Ancestry of Fabiola de Mora y Aragon 1928 — 2014] (in Spanish). GeneAll. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    3. "Queen Fabiola of the Belgians – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    4. Elliott, Annabel Fenwick. "Belgium's former Queen Fabiola dies at the age of 86". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    5. "De Indische waterlelies" [Indian water lilies] (in Dutch). Efteling. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    6. "Belgium's dowager queen Fabiola dies aged 86". BBC News. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    7. "Baudouin I". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    8. "BELGIUM: Cinderella Girl". 26 September 1960. Retrieved 26 June 2015. (subscription required (help)).
    9. "Antarctica Detail". United States Geological Survey. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    10. "Koningin Fabiola had vijf miskramen" [Queen Fabiola had five miscarriages]. Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Groot-Bijgaarden. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    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. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    13. "Belgium's cool Queen Fabiola defies would-be assassins with jokey apple gesture". Hello!. 23 July 2009. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
    14. "Belgian Queen receives wave of death threats". The Daily Telegraph. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    15. "Belgium PM slams queen over inheritance plan". Al Jazeera. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    16. "Belgian monarchy rocked by Queen Fabiola tax row". The Daily Telegraph. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    17. "Queen Fabiola 11/06/1928 - 05/12/2014". The Belgian Monarchy. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    18. Van Belle, Bart (5 December 2014). "Koningin Fabiola overleden" [Queen Fabiola Dies]. De Standaard (in Dutch). Groot-Bijgaarden. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    19. "7 days of national mourning installed". VRT (in Dutch). 6 December 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    20. "Koningspaar groet koningin Fabiola" [Royal salute for Queen Fabiola]. Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 December 2014.
    21. "Veel hoge gasten, maar geen Britse royals in Brussel" [Many distinguished guests, but no British royals in Brussels]. VRT (in Dutch). 12 December 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    22. Styles, Ruth (12 December 2014). "Tears for a beloved aunt: Belgium's royals join European monarchs as they bid farewell to Queen Fabiola". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    23. "Ministerio de Asüncios Decreto 2235" [Ministry of Foreign Affairs Decree 2235] (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). 22 November 1960. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    24. "Indice de apellidos" [Index of Surnames] (PDF) (in Spanish). Solardetejada.es. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    25. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nWIINtRGHnQ/UF4blcl7iBI/AAAAAAAACaA/CHek6yk6rDY/s1600/PAR278052.jpg
    26. "Photograph" (JPG). Badraie.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
    27. "News, Notes & Texts". The Tablet. 17 June 1961. p. 20. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    28. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/3d/e5/c0/3de5c0000b2015db00368c15003ac6f6.jpg
    29. "Photo with Pope John XIII" (JPG). Office of Protocol. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
    30. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Huwelijk_prinses_Beatrix_en_prins_Claus_%281966%29.jpg
    31. "Ordens Honorfícas Portuguesas" [Portuguese Honors]. President of Portugal. 24 August 1982. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
    Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fabiola of Belgium.
    Belgian royalty
    Title last held by
    Astrid of Sweden
    Queen consort of the Belgians
    Succeeded by
    Paola Ruffo di Calabria
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