April 1, 1976 saw Belgium celebrate the 25th Jubilee of King Baudouin. Here are public and private scenes from some of the celebrations.
In 1964, British Pathé took footage during King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola’s official state visit to the Empire of Japan. Enjoy lovely Crown Princess Michiko – always chic and beautiful. There is a charming true story that unites King Baudouin with then Crown Prince Akohito. During a diplomatic stop-over for the King in Japan, Crown Prince Akihito requested to speak to Baudouin privately.
This generated much nervous buzz in the Belgian embassy, as it was highly unusual. Akihito requested Baudouin’s help getting his letters to Michiko in Europe, since she was supposedly sent there to separate the two. Baudouin took all of the letters Akihito had been trying to get the Japanese diplomatic corps to deliver to Europe in the pouches and the King delivered them himself to Michiko.
Additionally, he spoke to the Emperor on the behalf of Akihito and Michiko, helping pave the way for a beautiful marriage of the now Emperor and Empress of Japan. That is why Akihito and Michiko felt quite close to Baudouin and Fabiola and undoubtedly why Michiko paid her respects at Fabiola’s funeral in December 2014.
This footage is the sole property of British Pathé and they retain all legal rights. It is only presented here within the YouTube Plugin.
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.
Belgian mail has released a set of new stamps featuring the late Queen Fabiola. This very attractive series will be available beginning January 26 in the larger Post offices or via Bshop and will cost 7,20 euros.
Baudouin and Fabiola had very clear and refined spiritual philosophies that combined to form a powerful love and caring for the Belgian people. As a shepherd king, Baudouin was known for the deep spiritual spring which bubbled up within his daily life embodying his personal dedication to his people, which dictated his daily aims and activities. He explained to a fellow pilgrim his purpose in being king was:
” to love his country,
to pray for his country,
and to suffer for his country. ” ¹
Paramount within him was his belief in the FIAT prayer that we ‘Always and everywhere be witnesses to the Lord.’ This dovetails exactly with Queen Fabiola’s remembrance card which states her simple and profound example to us all, reminding us to, Always say YES to God. May we always give thanks for those faithful pilgrims who have gone before us for their example to us as God’s children.
¹ from “Baudouin, King of the Belgians: The Hidden Life” by Cardinal Suenens.
On this day in history, 15 December 1960, King Baudouin and Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón were united in marriage and Queen Fabiola would go on to bring a warm ray of sunshine from Spain to a sometimes gloomy King Baudouin.