Queen Fabiola of Belgium
Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of the Belgians (1928) was born Doña Fabiola
Fernanda Maria de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón in Madrid.
Upon finishing her training as a nurse, Doña Fabiola began
work in a hospital in Madrid. The good relation of both the Mora y Aragóns and the Belgian Royal
Family with the Spanish Royal Family in exile, allowed the meeting between the
bachelor King of the Belgians and the pious Spanish noblewoman. Their relation
was carried in the most absolute secret, while the King kept being related with
various princesses. It is said, though, that when the King's brother Prince Albert
married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria the King had already demanded Doña
Fabiola in marriage and she had accepted.
The Belgian Prime Minister announced their engagement
and the news not only surprised but overjoyed all the Belgians. After the
triumphant Joyeuses Entrées in the Belgian provinces, the wedding took place in
Brussels, on 15
December 1960. The new Queen of the
Belgians immediately took a keen interest in the cultural and social life of
her new country.
The King and the Queen's lives were marked by the
sadness of not having had children. Although it is related the Queen had several
miscarriages, only one is sure, since when the Queen was pregnant the
sovereigns went to the Vatican and were received in state by Pope John XXIII, who promised to be
godfather of the child. Misfortune made it that the Queen would loose her baby
and never be able to give birth to the much-awaited heir. Unlike possibly
expected, this sad fate strengthened the relation between the King and the
Queen, and Their Majesties always said that the Belgians were their children,
all of them.
The Queen's activities, apart of the state ones which she carried with
the King, were much devoted to the social needs. In 1992, Queen Fabiola and Mr.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, chaired a
meeting of 70 First Ladies who had come to speak in favour of the adoption of
the Geneva Convention on the Advancement of Women in Rural Areas. Later,
already after the death of her husband, in 1994, she also chaired, this time in
Brussels, a meeting designed to assess the results of the implementation of the
His Majesty King Baudouin, Queen Fabiola's beloved
husband, died on 31 July 1993, while they were
vacationing in southern Spain. The love of the Belgian people towards the late King and Queen Fabiola
was never as evident as in the days that followed the King's death. The
messages for the Queen came from all corners of the world and for several times
Her Majesty came out of the windows of the Royal Palace to
thank people queuing to pay homage to King Baudouin. On the funeral day,
breaths were held when the Queen appeared in the top of the Grand Staircase of
the Royal Palace totally dressed in white. White, the privilege of Catholic Queens and
the colour that expressed the Queen’s feeling of thanks and thanksgiving, for
the King’s life.
Ever since, Fabiola has kept playing a major part in the Belgian Royal
Family and has devoted her time to rally for causes dear to her heart and to
her late husband’s. The Spanish noblewomen, who became the Belgian Queen, is
loved by her adopted country for her hard work and fastidious diligence to her
dear family. She presides over the Queen Elisabeth International Music
Competition of Belgium and is honorary president of the King Baudouin
Foundation, which aims at improving the living conditions of the population.
Since she worked as a nurse in her native Spain,
Her Majesty has a special interest in health care. She lends her support to
medical and social charities for children and encourages the study, prevention
and treatment of learning difficulties and psychosocial and cultural
backwardness through the Queen Fabiola National Foundation for Mental Health.
The Queen has also given her name the Queen Fabiola University Children's
Hospital, which caters exclusively for children.
Queen Fabiola was awarded the Ceres Medal on World
Food Day 2001 in recognition of her work to promote rural women in developing
countries. Accepting the Ceres Medal, she said: "With its specific
everyday activities, the FAO contributes to rural development and to the fight
against famine in the world, even though hunger and thirst have regrettably
become lethal weapons in the hands of the rich and powerful."
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