Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, 1928-2014
The future Queen Fabiola of Belgium was born in Madrid on 11 June1928, as Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón, the third daughter of a family of seven siblings. She trained as a nurse and worked in a Madrid hospital.
Fabiola married King Baudouin of Belgium on 15 December1960, and quickly won over her new fellow citizens, including the Flemish majority of the nation. The Flemings admired the dedication and speed of her grasp of their language. In a matter of months, she was fluent in Dutch. Queen Fabiola and her husband loved laughing together in private, but did not necessarily show this side of themselves in public. The King and Queen proved a popular couple, noted for their quiet dedication to Belgium and the Belgian people; for their staunch Roman Catholicism; and, more poignantly, for their many attempts to have children, all of which ended sadly.
Queen Fabiola’s whole life from then on was devoted to others, particularly those in need. She had more than curiosity for people - and peoples: she had a passion for human beings everywhere. She spoke Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, English and German, speaking all foreign languages briskly, with a delicious Castilian accent. She had a taste and talent for direct contact and conversation, talking volubly to everyone with the same enjoyment and genuine interest, always asking good questions, and one could feel her sympathy through her warm and unexpected humour and smiling eyes. She became active in promoting child protection, the flourishing of family life and personal gentleness everywhere
Queen Fabiola accepted the patronage of the European Museum Forum after attending the annual meeting in Barcelona in 1996, and immediately delighted the jury members with her involvement, enthusiasm and, above all, care for everyone. She knew each of us and what we were doing, regularly enquiring about our plans. When the European Museum Academy was formed in 2009 not only she continued to keep herself informed of our activities but encouraged very much our new initiative. Those of us who had the privilege to meet her regularly knew that we were in the presence of a very special lady, and we mourn her passing.