This week we will start a new series from the German magazine, Story. They have done a special edition in honor of Queen Fabiola after her death on 5 December 2014. Their story is Fabiola in 7 Anecdotes.
Dry Cheese and Milk On The Windowsill
During Baudouin’s reign, the menu was very basic at the Castle of Laken. It was the royal couple themselves who often turned out the lights at night. According to close aids, the motto of the royal couple was “no ostentatious luxury” and as the saying goes in Dutch, “every nickel was turned seven times before being spent.”
Even the receptions at the castle couldn’t be too expensive. A worker at the palace said that “it was a public secret that one didn’t eat very well at the palace back then.” At official ceremonies, staff had to make the rounds with “plates with dry cheese chunks, until people started laughing with it.”
Baudouin’s grand Marshal, Herman Liebaers, told how the royal couple received a thousand bottles of the grand-cru wine Hospice de Beaune as a wedding present. Sixteen years later, only fourteen bottles were empty. “When the weather was cold, the queen put the milk outside on the windowsill” says another worker at the palace. “She thought it was cozier and more homey than milk out of the fridge. But it was a strange sight seeing bottles of milk outside the window of the Palace of Laeken.”
Long after King Baudouin’s death, Fabiola took her own sandwiches with her when she was away during lunch. She would ask her chauffeur to stop for a while in a parking lot, so she could eat in the backseat. When she went away with her nieces and nephews on private occasions, she made the sandwiches herself.
I would like to thank a dear friend, Isabelle from Belgium, for her work as translator of this story. Thank you, my friend.