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Old 09-24-2014, 08:16 PM
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Discussion: Queen Paola

I was just wondering Was Queen Paola a popular queen consort?..... was she well liked, loved, admired?.....
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Old 09-25-2014, 06:52 AM
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When she entered the royal stage, she caused a true Paola-mania and was for decades by far the most popular member of the royal family. Besides the ascetic King Baudouin and the nun-like Queen Fabiola, Princess Paola was like a breath of fresh air.

Albert and Paola of course became King and Queen on an advanced age, they were already grandparents. Queen Paola was in general always liked but from the Dutchspeaking majority more and more critics could be heard about a Queen living in Belgium for more than half a century and still so very poor in Dutch.
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:34 AM
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I think actually that she was eclipsed by Fabiola rather quickly. Fabiola may have been nun-like, but she was popular as a consort. Of course for some Fabiola had/has the image of the overly zealous, wicked member of he Spanish Inquisition. Still her love for Baudouin was clear, her failed pregnancies caused many to be understanding and she embraced and modernized her role. By the end of his reign her husband grew out to be a semi-saint almost. After his death her image slowly declined.

The first years after her engagement/wedding there was a high interest in Paola indeed, as she resembled a movie-star. Her great beauty captured the imagination of many, 100.000s went out on the streets to see her during the 'Happy Entries' to the provinces. However glamorous Paola soon didn't appear all that often in public, often looked bored when she did and she was jetsetting for a decade or two. It seems that the queen doesn't look back on those days with joy, she had difficulties in coming to terms with her royal role, a troubled marriage and must have been rather unhappy has been mentioned by several sources (including Paola herself).

As an unexpected queen consort she always seemed a bit uncomfortable in her role and never embraced it fully. I think she was respected and always elegantly dressed and with a kind word for all she met. But although she must have her 'fans' she never was able (or willing?) to step out of the shadow completely. She was never as popular as other consorts like the queen of Sweden or the queen of Spain. And the stories about the difficult childhood of her children also tainted her image. The criticism about her difficulties in speaking Dutch are not completely fair. Also in French she speaks rather hesitantly though she is obviously more comfortable with the language. She seems to be a bit shy TBH. Her husbands abdication seems to be great relief to her, esp. since she seems rather concerned about his health.

If anything I think she was and is unknown, the elegant lady next to the king. That is why the Belgian television made a television portrait of her a few years ago, in which it was tried to show a more personal side of the queen. At this point I think the Boël trial, Albert asking for more money and Laurent's escapades all influence her image and not in a positive way. That she and her husband didn't visit Laurent immediately in the hospital when he fell ill was certainly noted. Though we do not know the reasons they had for this delay, sadly many assume the worst, which is not completely fair IMHO.
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Old 09-25-2014, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Huddo74 View Post
I was just wondering Was Queen Paola a popular queen consort?..... was she well liked, loved, admired?.....
Everyone I know from Flanders says that she was not very popular due to her inability to speak Dutch and apparent unwillingness to learn it.

I believe Mathilde has the potential to be a far more popular queen consort.
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Old 09-25-2014, 09:33 AM
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Everyone I know from Flanders says that she was not very popular due to her inability to speak Dutch and apparent unwillingness to learn it.

I believe Mathilde has the potential to be a far more popular queen consort.
Queen Paola at least had the excuse (like her sister-in-law Fabiola) that she was born in a foreign country. Paola in Italy and Fabiola in Spain. Queen Mathilde is born and bred in Belgium but does not speak Dutch well. The Argentine-born Queen Máxima has a greater ability in Dutch than Queen Mathilde, who has lived her whole life in Belgium.

Queen Paola was once the STAR of the Belgian royal family, the Paola-mania in Belgium was probably even more massive than the Diana-mania ever was in the UK. She was one of the most glamorous Princesses of her time.

See picture: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ma...rxw5o1_500.jpg

Queen Paola has another excuse for speaking poor Dutch: she was never destined to be Queen. She married the younger brother of the King. It was always assumed that the King would have his own children. When it became clear that King Baoudouin would remain without issue, the focus was on Prince Philippe, the eldest son of Prince Albert and Princess Paola. The total unexpected death of King Baudouin caused that suddenly Prince Albert became King. His spouse, prepared for a quiet life at the Château de Bélvedère, suddenly came full in the spotlights as Queen. At that moment she was already grandmother and close to her sixties. So she never managed Dutch language properly.
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Old 09-25-2014, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Duc_et_Pair View Post
Queen Paola at least had the excuse (like her sister-in-law Fabiola) that she was born in a foreign country. Paola in Italy and Fabiola in Spain. Queen Mathilde is born and bred in Belgium but does not speak Dutch well. The Argentine-born Queen Máxima has a greater ability in Dutch than Queen Mathilde, who has lived her whole life in Belgium.
Even though her Dutch is far from perfect, it seems to me that Queen Mathilde at least tries to speak it, and sometimes actually seems to try very hard. Her children, who go to a Dutch-speaking school, are actually rumored to speak Dutch better than French and I once heard Mathilde saying in an interview that she had to learn Dutch, among other things, to communicate with the children and help them with their school work.

I don't know if she was being sincere or not, but I myself sympathize with her effort. Besides, I think it is widely acknowledged that a French accent is very hard to lose when speaking any foreign language. Mathilde also has an accent when speaking English for example.
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Old 09-25-2014, 11:17 AM
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Even though her Dutch is far from perfect, it seems to me that Queen Mathilde at least tries to speak it, and sometimes actually seems to try very hard. Her children, who go to a Dutch-speaking school, are actually rumored to speak Dutch better than French and I once heard Mathilde saying in an interview that she had to learn Dutch, among other things, to communicate with the children and help them with their school work.

I don't know if she was being sincere or not, but I myself sympathize with her effort. Besides, I think it is widely acknowledged that a French accent is very hard to lose when speaking any foreign language. Mathilde also has an accent when speaking English for example.
Queen Mathilde is definitely improving a lot. It helps that as Duchess of Brabant and now as Queen she often faces a fait accompli: she has to speak Dutch because she comes in so many situations in which Dutch is the lingua franca. The choice to set the children on a Dutch school and communicate in French at home is a very clever one.

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Old 09-25-2014, 04:52 PM
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Queen Fabiola was so popular because for the first time King Baudouin was happy and smile.
There was absolutely no Paola mania in Belgium after 1960 and was not the most popular member of the Royal Family.
How often she showed a bad face and was not listening to speeches. She had her days!
When President Kennedy died , She was on a Party which was immediately stopped and she said : "pour une fois que l'on s"amusait..."

Queen Fabiola was absolutely not a nun-like Queen . She had 5 miscarriages , difficult for a Queen who is supposed to give a Heir to Belgium.
I met Queen Fabiola a lot of times and she always late and made the Protocol difficult because she spoke and asked a lot of questions. We were waiting for this this since 1935.

Concerning Princess /Queen Paola during her reign had an intersting sense of art i we have a scarab ceiling at the royal palace.
She started Child Focus but stayed on holiday when the whole Country discovered the dead bodies of Julie and Melissa , An and Eefje innocent victims of Marc Dutroux.
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Old 09-25-2014, 05:43 PM
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I have boxes with royal memorabilia, magazines (Point de Vue, Images du Monde, LIFE, De Post, Jours de France, Noir-et-Blanc, Cine/Télé, etc.), books, photo-albums, etc. from Belgium and France. Paola is really omnipresent. I see with my own eyes that IF there was a cover about the Belgian royal family, the chance was much bigger that Donna Paola was on the cover than Doña Fabiola. This is an indication of the popularity and the appeal she had until halfway the 1980's, until Princess Astrid started her own family and got a lot of attention as young and happy family.
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Old 09-26-2014, 06:57 AM
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Boxes and magazines of one of the most beautiful Princess of that time are publicity not a real image .
The Princess had as new Country, a new life which was totally different from Rome and its Freedom.
This was difficult for her and shows it !

I have the Paris Match where its front page was : "Paola presque Reine , le Roi Baudouin entre au Couvent " and in the same Week the Prime Minister announced the King's Engagement !
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Old 09-26-2014, 07:04 AM
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Princess Astrid was Archduchess at the beginning of her wedding and left Belgium to live in Bâle where she had an accident you can still see on her face.

As young girl she was FAT shy and absolutely non popular. When her Father was King she changed completely for being the nice- looking , happy and smiling Princess she is now but badly dressed by Chanel !
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:55 AM
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There was ominous news a while back that said something to the effect that Paola would not be taking any engagements for quite a while. Anybody heard any news on what's possibly wrong with Paola?
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:03 AM
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There were rumours in the Belgian press that she suffered a mild stroke last summer.
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Old 11-05-2015, 02:25 AM
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Think the last news was when the palace announced that she had heart problems?
Koningin Paola heeft hartritmestoornissen - HLN.be

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Old 11-05-2015, 05:12 AM
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There were rumours in the Belgian press that she suffered a mild stroke last summer.
The Palace denied she had a stroke, but said she was suffering from cardiac arrhythmia.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:15 AM
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Okay, thanks everyone for the heads up!

I hope Paola had a restful summer and is recovering nicely.
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Old 06-09-2016, 03:28 AM
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I understood that they spoke Flemish in the "Non French" parts of Belgium, not Dutch?
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Old 06-09-2016, 03:52 AM
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Flemish is the Dutch spoken in Flanders. It's basically the same language with a different accent and some specific vocabulary of its own. The same dictionnary is used in Flanders and the Netherlands. You can easily compare it with British versus American English or French versus Canadian French.

BTW the official language of Flanders is "Dutch".
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:52 AM
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Thanks. I know it is a similar language to Dutch, (I only speak a litlte French just enough to say simple things in it)... but I thought that it was officially called Flemish adn was different to Dutch
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Old 06-10-2016, 05:18 AM
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The majority of the Belgians is Dutch-speaking. Once the French-speaking part was the economic heartland of Belgium, with its coalmines, steelworks and other industries. Since decades the economic heartland is in the Dutchspeaking part, meaning that they not only outnumber the French-speaking Belgians but also by far outpower them in economics. That is difficult for the French-speaking haute société, which was used to rule Belgium and are now marginalized, depending on gigantic transfers of taxpayers' money from the Dutch-speaking part to the French-speaking part to keep it afloat.

Article (in Dutch): "Transfers: 185 years one-way-direction from Flanders to Wallonia". The headline alone is enough to understand the frustration of the Dutch-speaking part with their French-speaking compatriots.

Queen Paola's Dutch is very poor. King Philippe (raised in a primarily French-speaking family) and Queen Mathilde (raised in a French-speaking family) have understood the sign of the times. All their children go to Dutch-speaking schools. At home they speak French. Princess Elisabeth and her siblings are the first Belgian royals whom have Dutch, and not French, as primary language.
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