Belgian Royals in books and other publications
Weekly magazine HUMO had an interesting article on Queen Fabiola last week, they interviewed several people close to her, among the Benoit Carbon de Lichtbuer (former secretary of the Queen), Luc Tayart de Borms (of the King Boudewijn foundation), Claude de Valkeneel (worked at the court for 30 years)and 3 anonimous people. This week they had only the first part and next week a second part will follow (don't know if there will be more).
I will post some information from the article in this thread.
Take a look at part of the HUMO article here, at the website of the magazine.
On her religious & conservative image:
According to Luc Tayart de Borms (LTdB) this imageproblem is mostly caused by the book of former court marshall Herman Liebaers. Liebaers worshipped king Boudewijn: the king could do no wrong in his eyes. When the king refused to sign the abortion law Liebaers thought an evil genius had to be behind this mistake. He ended up with Opus Dei, of which Queen Fabiola was a member, so he claimed. According to LTdB the queen is religious indeed, but she herself denies that she is a member of Opus Dei. In her large Spanish family you can find people who are members of Opus Dei indeed but also republicans.
LTdB conitues that King Boudewijn gave the abortion law a lot of thought, he even talked to the French politician Simone Veil, who made the first abortion law in Europe. That shows a certain openness to the matter, which also counts for Fabiola., who is not a fanatic or intolerant. She is enthausiast; she wants to know everything. She follows the scientific evolution just like Boudewijn used to do. She is also very empathic, when people still thought AIDS was a dark and contagious disease, she kissed AIDS patients in front of the camera.
Benoit Cardon de Lichtbuer (BCdL) also says that the Queen was very enthausiastic. He was her secretary for 10 years, from 1979 to 1989. Timing was impossible with her, always and everywhere we would finish hours late. When we once came at the palace, hours after scheduele again, the king made a remark about that. I replied: 'Sire, your wife asks so many questions and she talks to everybody'. We did laugh a lot, the queen has a great sense of humor. You should see her house, the on the floor you will find piles of books about literature, history, religion, Spain. Usually she reads 10 books at the same time.
LTdB: I remember an exhibition in the psychiatric center of Dr Guislain in Ghent. Everybody was very nervous because there were a couple of drawings of Felicien Rops which showed a naked penis every here and there. But the Queen had to laugh about all the comotion, and isnsteadof at 8 o'clock we left the clinic at 10, 2 hours behind scheduele.
BCdL: She is unequaled in public relations, she knows how to do it by herself, how to speak with people. And especially: how to let them speak, because that is what people appreciate most. Fabiola has a natural contact with Belgians of all social classes, young and old, Flemish and Walloons. Before each visit I knew: it will work today'. She knew how to do it, without being trained for it. But when she returned to the palace she put all that aside and became the wife of Boudewijn again.
The Nosejob & Spanish background:
It was said that Fabiola came from the Spanish 'blood' aristocracy but that is untrue. Her paternal family wasn't old nobility at all. The Mora's made a fortune and gained a respectable place in Spanish society. Due to this they were raised into the nobility in the 19th century. Her maternal side however has a longer aristocratic line.
Informer 1: Fabiola comes from a family of Franco supporters. They weren't millitants but fellow travellers at least. King Bouewijn was a democrat of course but he had a certain admiration for Franco too. If I am not mistaken he wanted to go to the funeral of Franco, which the goverment did not allow as it was unappropriate to attend the funeral of a dictator. But they met Franco several times and Fabiola and Boudewijn did not have any ethical objections to Spains dictator.
According to Informer 1 Franco and Fabiola's family were close. After the civil war the family was able to continue their lives undisturbed, which says enough. They were also good friends with Queen Ena of Spain, who had to leave the country in 1931.
According to Claude Valkeneel, who worked at the court for 30 years, Fabiola was not the average Spanish aristocrat. She had guts. She had her unelegant nose operated in a time when that was highly unusual and she worked as a nurse on a hospital in Madrid - she did something!
CdV: I remember when I saw her first at Ciergnon, when she was to represented officially to the press as the fiancee of the king. I went to fetch her. She said: you are about the first Belgian I meet, but I might become your Queen! We both had to laugh about that. She wore a tricot and a dress, no tralala, that was Fabiola. She dazzled you with her charm and later she did that to the entire Belgian population.
Informer 1: She comes from a family that did not want to have anything to do with the luxury of the nouveau riches. They had a lot of staff and a big house but there was no warm water in the rooms you see.And every morning they had to rise early to go to mass, something she continuesd at the palace and on her foreign trips. Even in Patagonia she went to mass every morning. Everywhere they went a priest would be ready, usually a Fransiscan, the king and queen both had their own pillow and kneeled down in front of the altar to pray. They folowed the mass with two ladies behind them who tried to wave some coolness to themselves with their mantilla's.
Engagement & marriage
Religion brought Boudewijn and Fabiola together, their engagement was arranged by the church. Fabiola was nt the kind of girl that would make many hearts of men beat faster. At 32 she had had only one marriage proposal, which was refused: the candidate, a rich businessman, was to frivolous. But all of a sudden she was visited by the Irist sister Veronica O Brian, who was send to Spain by Cardinal Suenens. She told Fabiola that the king of the Belgians wanted to marry her. Fabiola was already thinkin of retiring to a convent so she was surprised. Accoding to CdV she did not expect to marry anymore. For somebody who is religious that makes the convent an interesting prospect. In the head of Boudewijn there were simular thoughts, according to informer 1 he also thought of going into a convent, but not bcause he could not find a wife. I doubt he had much interest in finding one.
Informer 1: as a king he met a whole series of women like Isabelle of France, several princesses of Liechtenstein, Bavaria and Austria, but they did not interest him. He was very religious, but the convent was out of the question. His brother Albert was younger than him and his uncle prince Charles/Karel was out and his father Leopold III didn't want to reign anymore. If Boudewijn would retreat to a convent that would have ben the end of the monarchy. He consulted cardinal Suenens about this, he liked him: skinny, rigorous and a little ascetic.
CdV: Suenens came to court to give psychic support to princess Josephine-Charlotte. But as quickl as he could he captured the soul of Boudewijn, that was what he was after.No, I am not a friend of Suenens, neither was Leopold III, he hated the cardinal and evaded him systimatically. He even demanded that Suenens would not lead his funeral service.
- But the topic was the engagement. CdV agrees with informer 1: most likely Boudewijn did not want to find a wife, or even more exlicit: I don't think he felt attracted by women. Informer1 replies: author Roger Peyrefitte once wrote that Boudewijn was gay but I don't believe that. He wasn't especially interested in sex, unlike his brother. But that doesn't make him gay. He was not impotent either, Fabiola had several miscarriages, only he was not the type that would walk after any pretty girl. Homosexuality is often inherited and in the Coburgs not many examples are known. Prince Charles is an exceptions, he preferred women but he had an affair with his secretary Gofinet too. He was also once caught with a man from Belo Russia, a police report was made but disappeared quickly.
Informer 1: Boudewijn was before all a man who wanted to fulfill his duty. Even if he would have preferred to be behind the walls of a convent he could not: there was the kings question, he had to reign to save the monarchy. After the enthronement the family thought that he would abdicate after 3 years or so for his father again. That is also how Boudewijn spoke to his father: ' when you will be king again...' . But after a while a return of Leopold was impossible. Politicians Spaak and van Acker told that to Boudewijn several times. He was only 20 of course, maybe he thought that it would only be a task for a few years. What I know for sure is that Princess Lilian was convinced that her husband would reign again. She kept that dream untill halfway the 50-ties. Boudewijn had double feelings. He was occupying a throne that belonged to his father, a father that he loved. The kings question was a burden for both father as son.
THANK YOU Marengo! I have so much wanted to read these articles but have been frustrated by my inability to read or understand Dutch....I am baffled as to why people assume HM was a member of Opus Dei...how can one be Opus Dei and Charismatic at the same time?? The biography I have of HM represents her as a sparkling, intelligent and fun woman. I think she has been really misunderstood by people who think her only interest in life is religion.
The woman is interested in EVERYTHING!
Please continue to post these articles if you get more...thanks again!
One thing that baffles me about this story...did Baudouin decide he wanted to marry Fabiola without even seeing or meeting her?? This is confusing to me.
Couple in love
The marriage between Boudewijn and Fabiola was a marriage de raison, but after a while their love became genuine, all informers agree on that. They disagree on what kind of love it was though.
BCdL: in the end they were just like a young couple in love., after 32 years of marriage! Unbelievable. CdV: Sensuality is not always a good basis for a marriage. Boudewijn was not a physical person, he might have had too many set-backs for that. And Fabiola was not very sensual either, though she wore extraordinairy evening gowns. They shared the same high principles about their duty: they had to serve the people. And they had their faith in a simular way. If you share that: will and faith, you can come far in life. Great enthausiasm resembles love, looks at a soccerplayer that just made a goal. Boudewijn an Fabiola did not live for themselves.
Informer 1 says that there was a great tenderness between the two, that was visible from their bodylanguage. The way they interacted! That was not a cold marriage at all. Not that they had sex all days of course, not at all actually. In love all comes together: duty, religion and concienseness who you are and who the other is. In the best scenario a reliable partner with whom you can make the big cross through life. It is very catholic: blind trust. After time that became a form of love.
Bouwijn and Fabiola were not a couple that you laugh a little about, no, they were a beautiful couple. A bit Shakespearian maybe, there was tragedy, the entire life of the kind was tragic. Fabiola took him out of his loneliness. He was always tense but now he had a comrad all of a sudden. They formed a team, a great team. She was a tremedous asset to him.
HUMO: Maybe because he had fear of being abandoned, by the early death of his mother?
Informer 1: He had fears indeed, you can see that in his personal letters from which Suenens once took quotes for his book. In those he prays to his deceased mother Astrid: ' mama help me to bring my speech in German to a good end' . Unforgivable that Suenens made that public, as if the king was a child! Maybe Boudewijn was a bit childish, he was formed by the loss of his mother. And maybe abiola meant a substitute for his mother, maybe that was the essence of their marriage. Soit, I am not doctor Freud!
HUMO: did Boudewijn know when they married that Fabiola was infertile?
Informer 1: I know a story that it was in a letter, a letter that was shown to Boudewijn by Princess Lilian. I haven't seen the letter though, and I don' t believe the story.
CdV: I know one thing: when they married the mother of Fabiola made it clear that her daughter never had her period, so that it was possible that she could not have any children. Cardinal Suenens was not alarmed: ' God will take care of it' was his reply.
Informer 1: There were wild speculations but I stick to the facts. The problem was that the young king was completely under the control of his father, Leopold decidd. The government was fed up with it: two kings is one king too many. The government took advantage of the wedding with Fabiola and made it clear to Leopold that he had to movve out of Laeken castle to Argentieul. When Boudewijn and Fabiola returned from their honeymoonLaeken castle seemed plundered, it was completely empty. CdV says: when I entered my office everything was gone: taken by the movers to Argenteuil. Apparently the movers were foreign and they did not understand that not everything had to go to Argenteuil.. Lilian initially tred to be nice to Fabiola but she had such an ' envergure that she casted a shadow over anybody around her. Fabiola was afraid for tht of course. And Lilian was a prima donna, they had very little contact with each other.
Informer 1: Fabiola said: Boudewijn is my husband. Let us be a family and don't bother us! Undoubtably she played a role in father and son moving apart.
The arrival of Fabiola meant for Boudewijn the loss of his father and his step mother. He did not show himself with his father in public anymore but there were some discreet contacts. On a day the king went to Argenteuil, he made it clear that he did not want to see anybody there apart from his parents. When he arrived he saw a girl: why don't you stick to what we agreed? He asked. Lilian replied that the girl was his half sister! It came that far!
Informer 1: There still were small moments of contact. Sometimes Albert and Boudewijn would go to Argenteuil and said 'bonjour papa' , sat down and watched television. Either Leopold would fall asleep or he would lecture Boudewijn: you are allowing yourself to be bullied by socialists They are the undertakers of Belgium! The atmosphere was icy.
By the way, at the palace I never heard anybody say that the Flemish are ruining the country. Not Boudewijn, neither Albert, not Leopold. The royal family spoke in french but the atmosphere at the palace was not anti-flemish. No, the antipathy was mainly against the socialists, though they made an exception for somebody like Willy Claes, who could make beautiful music and who had so much common sense.
In the deepest of their hearts the royal family preferred Flanders over Wallonia. Because Flanders was catholic, no nonsense. They understood why these young Flemish men went to the eastern front, under pressure of their pastors: to fight the communists!
The first task for a monarch and his wife is to get children. Boudewijn and Fabiola did not succeed in this. Recently the Queen referred to that during a diner: she had 5 miscarriages. CdV remembers: those were very painfull moments. Once pope John XXIII announced the pregnancy while nobody in Belgium knew about it. Eveybody was angry. Prime minister Theo Lefevre solved it well, he said: which woman does not tell this firstly to her priest? The mumbling ended immidiately, but it ended in a miscarriage. It wasn't easy as press secretary to communicate about this. I didn't know the details I once had to call a doctor to ask what that was exactly, a miscarriage.
Informer 1: I remember that sentense they once said:it is impossible for us to get children, but that way we can open ourselves more for other all those children. A beautiful sentense that shows how much they suffered under their childlesness.They were so religious, they accepted their fate as the will of God.
BCdL: These days a couple like that would be able to get children, back then it was very difficult. Kings arent always treated the best way you know, it is delicate for them to leave a specialist, that can attract publicity you see? As a normal patient you are luckier.
CdV: After a visit to Argentina I told scientist Ilya Prigogine that we went to the city of Salta. I know that place he replied, Argentinian women who can not get any children go there. It was halfway the 60-ties, the childlesness became an obsession already.
Informer 1: Fabiola kept on trying, up to a high age. With all the risks. ' Elle risque gros' was said on the palace, and she did of course.
Informer 2 says: miscarriages, they are the big sorrow of her life. If you lose a child over and over again, that hurts. And as mother and queen you will be longing more and more for something you can not get. In your suffering you attach more value to the life of the unborn, esp. when you lost your mother at an early age. All this accumulated led him not to sign the abortion law.
Informer 1: I think esp. Fabiola felt guilty. That was also the reason why king Boudewijn did not take care of his nephews and niece sooner. It went bad from fairly early on between Paola and Albert, it lasted from 1965 to 1983. In 1965 Boudewijn did not look after Filip, he only started that 10 years later, when Filip was 15. He didn't want to hurt Fabiola's feelings. He didn' t want to give the impression that he was adoptig his brothers children, that would have been humiliating for her.
HUMO: but weren't Boudewijn and Fabiola a sort of foster parents for a long time for Filip, Astrid and Laurent?
Informer 1: you can not say it like that. The entire court did something in their upbringing, and the parents where there too of course, every now and than, never together. It was very seldom that Albert and Paola even ate with their children.
HUMO: Rudy Bogaerds said that Fabiola made Filip the shy man that he has become.
Informer 1: Bogaerds was the coach of Laurent, he didn' t know Fabiola and Boudewijn well. He overreacted a bit. Fabiola was for Filip a distant aunt, a grandmother almost. Sometimes he went for diner with Boudewijn and her and the king would speak about his profession. They were never very close with him. Also not with Astrid and Laurent, there was no intimite contact: the children were raised by chauffeurs and governesses.
HUMO: Did Boudewijn and Fabiola have a different kind of contact with Filip than with Laurent?
Informer 1: They never loved Laurent, they mistrusted him. He wasn't treated very well but he was a very unpleasant and unstable child, spoiled. He is dangerous. Astrid they did like, she was calm, docile, very much the style of Laeken. Mathilde has that style now too, she preferably speaks on a whispering tone these days.
I am not sure how they decided to marry. but apparently cardinal Suenens sent Veronica O' Brian to Spain to find a devout wife for Boudewijn. They were probably introduced after that. Still I find it odd that the more general version of their first meting doesn't get some attention (that Boudewijn visited Queen Ena and was to be introduced to be one of her granddaughters and found himself more attracted to the friend of the granddaughter, which was Fabiola de Mora y Aragon.
Fascinating....I have heard the rumor about the letter warning Baudouin that Fabiola might be infertile...and I read that when Fabiola found out that Liliane gave the letter to Baudouin she flew into a rage and that was why she disliked Liliane. I don't believe this and I will tell you why...a person as deeply devout as Fabiola would not enter marriage and take the Holy Sacrament knowing that it was based on a lie. She had too much pride and sense of duty to possibly subject herself to the pain and humiliation of being a barren Queen-Consort...maybe she knew that she had gynecological problems and maybe that is why she hesitated to accept Baudouin's marriage proposal. But I think Baudouin as well as Cardinal Suenens persuaded her that everything would work out. I also believe that is part of the reason Baudouin remained so steadfastly devoted to her when she did indeed prove to be infertile.
How strange to hear these "insiders" discussing something as intimate as the Royal couple's sex life! The only people who would know something that personal would be the Queen's confessor and her gynecologist!
Thanks again, Marengo.
Informer 3 tells HUMO that Cardinal Suenens also was involved in the marriage conflict between Albert and Paola. He told Boudewijn and Fabiola what to do with it. When they heard about Delphine they also spoke first to Suenens. The existance of an illegitemate child was a sin in their eyes, without a doubt. But they debated with Suenens on how they should react to it. Did they have to denounce her or did they have to make a generous gesture, as good christians? It is unknown to me what the avice of Suenens was. Initially Boudewijn and Fabiola did not want to hear anything about a divorce but later th king accepted the idea of a divorce.
HUMO: for the sake of Delphine?
Informer 3: no, beause of the horrible behavior of Paola, the way she behaved towards her husband. Boudewijn, who loved his brother very much, saw how Albbert was suffering because of that. A divorce became the lesser of evils. But it took a long time before some action was undertaken and in the end they did not proceed because Albert and Paola didn't want it anymore. But Boudewijn had agreed with the principle of a dvorce indeed.
HUMO: strange, he did object to divorced ministers in the government, but it was possible for his brother.
Informer 3: another incorrect story, the king did receive divorced people, he even ennobled divorced people like Phillipe Robert-Jones.
HUMO: what did Fabiola think of Albert having a mistress?
Informer 3: she never spoke about that wih Albert. She did think he was living in sin and they saw him less often than they did before. But that had also to do wwith the inferiority complex that Albert had towards his elder brother and sister. He admired Boudewijn. He is my rolemodel, he once said. That is how I should be. But Fabiola and Boudewijn never ever said that Albert was the black sheep of the family, they always received him and they had diner in the pingpong-room. I don' t know if they wanted to break with Paola or that she stopped going to them. Anyway, they did not see each other anymore apart from on the national holiday (21 July) and o 17 February, the mass for the deceaased members of the RF. Fabiola was especially hard against Paola, she didn' t like her.
HUMO: was Paola not a bit to pretty for her sister-in-law?
Informer 3: Fabiola knew how the relationship between Paola and Albert had declined. It wasn't the mistake of Albert at all, no, it was Paola who HUMO: who was her first lover?
Informer 3: I am not going to tell you that
HUMO: the photographer that she was spotted with in the Riviera?
Informer 3: No! According to Italian sources she already had one before her marriage, and she just continued that. Albert complained about it with his brother, who reminded Paola of her duties. You are the wife of the crown prince and the sister-in-law of a king! But she didn't ppay attention to that and went abroad all the time. At many state visits Albert would appear alone, they usually said that Paola had some illness.
When Paola became Queen she immidiately retaliated. It was her who cancelled the secritariate of Fabiola. Fabiola later had to rebuild that, on a smaller scale. And she had to leave Laeken for Stuyvenberg, she didn' t like that at all. Fabiola stayed for one more year in Laeken but on a good day the court marshall, Gerard Jacques had to tell her on behalf of Albert and Paola that she had to leave the castle. Laeken had to be cleared for the visit of the German president, was the excuse. It was a severe blow to Fabiola.
End of Part I
Marengo...this is better than a TV soap opera!! So Paola had a lover BEFORE she married Albert and continued to see him after the wedding?? No wonder Baudouin was harder on Paola than Albert! People have always blamed Albert for all the marriage problems, now we see that wasn't necessarily true. He simply sought comfort outside his dead marriage. Thank God Albert and Paola have rebuilt their marriage...they are like young lovers now.
And I am surprised to hear that Paola "retaliated" against Fabiola after Baudouin's death because in all the pictures Paola looks very supportive of her, holding her hand during Albert's enthronement, etc. And just recently at Fabiola's birthday Paola and Fabiola looked very chummy indeed, laughing together and all.
Well, that is what was said by Italian sources of an anonimous informer. I found the part about Paola quite surprising too actually, and was rather surprised that they are so convinced that the marriage problems started even before the marriage! And that they were mainly started by Paola.
The story that Fabiola's move from Laeken was a retaliation was heard immidiately when Fabiola moved in the press, so that is not new to me. Still, it might also be Fabiola who wanted to live in a smaller place. And it all happened in 1993, so maybe time healed the wounds.
If you read this article it makes you feel sorry for the children of Paola and Albert, being brought up by the staff and such.
Thanks, but I thought Fabiola didn't leave Laeken for Stuyvenberg until shortly before CP Philippe's wedding in the late 1990's? I know that Laeken had a lot of fond memories for Fabiola since it's where she lived with Baudouin but that place is HUGE...much too much for the Queen to live there alone.
I agree with you, I feel terribly sad that the children of Albert and Paola had to grow up that way and frankly I am surprised that they did not "act out" more...(I am talking about Astrid and Philippe, apparently Laurent was indeed a problem child) Thank goodness they appear to be loving and devoted parents themselves despite a chaotic an unstable upbringing.
It is true that Leopold III and Lilian did not see much of Baudouin and Albert anymore. I read that Leopold and Lilian cut out pictures from newspapers to see Albert's children! Josephine-Charlotte did continue to visit her father but it was also strained.
Princess Marie-Christine once said that the name Astrid could not be mentioned to her father, especially not with Lilian around. Lilian had a difficult relationship with Paola, Fabiola, Baudouin, Albert, Charles (Leopold's brother), Marie-Christine and Lea Wolman.
well whoever said reality is even better than fiction sure is right when it comes to this family's history
A witch, prince Laurent called her once. She also is supposed to be more catholic than the pope: the Spanish inquisition of these days, masked by a big hairdo and a charming smile. But Fabiola isn’t what she seems to be, insiders tell. She doesn’t like conservative bishops and she is in favour of renewal in the church.
Back to the office of Luc Tayart de Borms (LTdB). Humo shows him a report of the King Boudewijn foundation that is 8 years old. The report says that the foundation does research after ethic and legal implications of genetic testing. Tests that can also be done on embryo’s, which might lead to an abortion. Queen Fabiola is the chairman of the foundation, didn’t she object?
Tayart says: ‘No, she respects the rules of an independent board, she doesn’t intervene. And she knows what she is talking about. She follows the medical evolution carefully, just like her late husband did. Fabiola understands that we are confronted with questions that nobody had to answer before’.
18 years ago the legalisation of abortion almost led to a ‘crise de regime’, when king Boudewijn refused to sign the proposal. He forgot his constitutional duty, only by some legal tricks he was able to keep his throne: the king was for one day ‘unable to reign’. Informer 1 says: ‘his conscience did not allow him to sign that law, if he had to abdicate he would have done it. He was deeply religious, for him the eternal kingdom came before the one on earth’
Jose-Alain Fralon (JAF), ex-correspondent of ‘Le Monde’ told Humo 2 years ago that Fabiola did not influence Boudewijn in the abortion case. ‘On the contrary, she urged him to sign, but he wasn’t a notary’. Informer 1 doesn’t agree: ‘Politically Fabiola had no influence over her husband. She didn’t lobby for anything, that wasn’t her role. And she knew that’.
Informer 1: Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou, chef of the cabinet of the king, did urge the king to sign AKAIK. And Andre Molitor, the previous chef openly said that he should have signed. That was his duty as a king. Benoit Cardon de Lichtbuer (BCdL) says: I spoke about this to the queen and I can assure you, if Boudewijn would have been a single man he would have done exactly the same. Don’t be mistaken, he had a very strong personality too! The queen also has that, you don’t have to tell me that, but the king made the decision by himself.
Humo: Didn’t she know Belgian politics sufficiently?
Informer 1: she knew people, Willy Claes for example, Boudewijn and Fabiola loved him, even though he was a socialist. They also liked Guy Spitaels. When he lost a child due to a traffic accident the king and queen quickly went to Mr. and Mrs. Spitaels to comfort them. Spitaels is known as a cold and distant man but that touched him deeply, he always speaks very positively about them.
‘ Of course the king did speak about politics at home with his wife, when he came back exhausted of the day. All married couples talk about their work. But he didn’t ask her advice. Sometimes she tried to intervene in a conversation, but he would say ’’Darling…’’ on a soothing tone, and she knew she had to stay out of it. He knew how she was: with all her impulsiveness she was able to be very direct’.
Humo: what was the political affiliation of the Royal Family?
Informer 1: they always voted CVP (Flemish Christian Democrats) All, except Laurent, I don’t know how he voted. ‘For the communists I suppose..’(laughs)’.
Humo: for the Flemish Christian Democrats and not for the Wallonian?
Informer 1: with the Wallonian Christian Democrats there was too much syndicalism and in the CVP there were people they could get along with. Jan Piers and Wilfried Martens for example. Boudewijn thought highly of them. He knew that Martens had had a difficult childhood, and that he was able to study due to a priest. Boudewijn preferred him over Tindemans. Martens had more courage. Nobody understood why Tindemans resigned to the king in 1978, all out of the blue’.
The former spokesman for Boudewijn, Claude de Valkeneer (CdV) has another remarkable story about the close connection with the CVP. It was told to him by former court marshal Herman Liebaers. ‘On a day Herman Liebaers was visiting the Vatican, to prepare a visit of the king, and he coincidently met Leo Delcroix. Liebaers was surprised, what was he doing there? It came out that he was there to prepare the non-signing of the abortion law!
CdV: ‘I think the king was influenced by the Vatican in the abortion question’. Did you ever hear the pope say he disagreed with Boudewijns refusal to sign the abortion law? Informer 2 says: you can not judge the refusal as something moralising. The king had the conviction that the future of humanity was at stake. He also looked at abortion from a macro-economic point of view: one part of the world is poor and young, the other part rich and aging, labour will become scarce. For him it was a question of being responsible: if we want to keep the west prosperous we have to cherish the youth. The youth has the future.
So Queen Fabiola does not like conservative bishops? I guess that makes sense when you realize that she is very close to Cardinal Daneels, who is a liberal. BTW Danneels allegedly opposed the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope.
She and Boudewijn were of course VERY close to Cardinal Suenens, who opposed traditional church teaching that sex was mainly for the procreation of children.
I have heard two things about the abortion bill, that Fabiola urged the King NOT to sign and that she stayed out of it totally except to offer her love and support for whatever his decision was. I have never heard that she told him to sign and I just don't believe that at all. I guess we will never know for sure unless the Queen writes her memoirs.
Marengo, I can't thank you enough to taking the time to write this. It's truly fascinating stuff.
Speaking in tongues
The charismatic movement had access to the court long before king Baudouin decided to abdicate for 1 day. Sources are unclear who started with it. Was it princess Astrid who came back with enthausiastic stories when she had stayed with a çharismatic' family in the USA in the latye 70-ties? Or was it cardinal Suenens? Or father Verhagen, whose influence at court can not be underestimated.
'A faith healer like Emilien Tardief was popular' says informer 1; 'A Canadian I think, who wasn't very sane. He had people talk in tongues."Hallelujah, Hallelujah"one even louder than the other, they spread their arms and were open to the spirit of the Lord. Women threw themselves on the floor, men said to have received secret messages in Hewbrew and Chinese and it seems there were mysterious healings too'. Prince Albert went to these meetings from the start. Initially not to reconsile with his wife Paola though, but at least to have slightly better contact with her. In the end after 5 years or so they reconsiled. The charismatic movement saved their marriage.
A source at court says: Álbert and Paola are more rigid in their faith than Fabiola. Their faith is closed and almost fanatic. It seems that after their fall to sin, they want to earn heaven back'.
Informer 1 believes that Cardinal Suenens was the one responsible for the success of the charismatic movement at court, the Rasputin of Laeken. The informer is still very angry about the shameless way the cardinal revealed quotes from King Baudouin in a private papers. Here the king described how at 60 years of age he was praying to his mother for strength. Ýou can understand that from a boy of 20, such medieval thoughs, but from a man who had been king for 40 years? Suenes harmed the kings reputation by quoting these things. He probably got the papers from Fabiola, who else could have given them?'
Informer 2 says that it was king Baudouin himself who gave these things to the cardinal. Fabiola was even surprised when she heard about the existence of them. She never saw them before. A misunderstanding I think: Suenens quoted from it to show the christian engagement of the royal couple, but it wasn't very tactfull, no.'
De Valkeneer: Suenens was after influence
Informer 2: the King and Queen weren't rigid in their faith. They weere open to the new movements and changes after the 2nd Vatican concilie. They were inspired by the charismatic movement and by 'marriage encounter'. Opus Dei? No, they never were a member of that.
BCdL: Baudouin and Fabiola were leaning towards the progressive movement in the church. He also denies their membership of Opus Dei.
Informer 1; Fabiola is a right-wing woman, very ancien regime, but she is close to the people. A real aristocrat of the ancien regime is closer to the farmer than to the lawyer, you see. Fabiola kissed leperds, she visited Paty Sorensen, who cared about the fate of prostitutes. Boudewijn supported his wife: he was very much impressed by a book of Chris de Stoop 'Ze zijn zo lief, meneer'about prostitution. The royal couple wasn't for direct democracy but they were for direct contact with the base.
At the end of his life Baudouin convinced his wife to start an initiative called 'First Ladies', a project of Queens and wives of presidents that paid attention to the position of women and children on the countryside and in poorer regions. The project was under the shared charmanship of Queen Fabiola and Queen Noor of Jordan and was supported by the secretary general of the UN, Boutros Boutros Ghali.
Informer 2: the original idea came from Baudouin. He thought that the sense of responsibility of a mother was greater than that of a father. Jer can give her more trust: she will stay with her family. So when you support the mother you are supporting a family, was his way of reasoning. The project covered the entire world and had a great impact. The congres in Pana had Hillary Clinton as a chairwoman for example.
Before the project could start however, Fabiola became a widow. In 1993 in Motril, Spain, King Boudewijn had a leaking heart valve, due to a failed operation one year previously. There was a lot of critisism on clinic Broussais in Paris for this operation. In those days more people knew that the operation had failed. Willy Claes told HUMO before that he heard from french president Francois Mitterand how the operation wasn't a success. Mitterand had the information from the French secret service.
Informer 1 says: Baudouin was treated badly in France. A Belgian heart specialist would have given him a plastic heart vulve, instead of the one they used in France which started leaking. If Hugo Vanemeren of the OLV Hospital in Aalst would have operated him he would still have been alive today! 'Princess Lilian had a cardiologic foundatio', she knew the best heart surgeons of the world. And than Baudouin goes to Paris! I am still looking for an explanation.'
CdV: The operation was a cock-up. BCdL is more careful: the last 10 years heart surgery progressed a lot; these days Baudoouin wouldn't have had to die. The King was suffering from bad health for a while. Fabiola knew it could end like this. In the years before his death one doctor after another was called to the palace.
Despite being a heart patient the king decided to travel to Spain in the summer of 1993, without taking a doctor with him.BCdL sighs: 'Sometimes people are allowed to be alone, that is what a holiday is for'.
After king Baudouin died, prime minister Dehaene and his cabinet hastily decided that prince Albert would succeed his brother, and not prince Phillipe who was generally expected to do so. A source at court says: 'Albert wasn't enthausiastic. He look up to his brother enormously. It was a difficult task indeed, to succeed Baudouin. But Paola really wanted it. She couldn't wait'.
Informer 1: Baudouin and Fabiola were convinced that Phillipe was a suitable successor, in the far future. But they never ruled out Albert, whatever anybody thinks. For Baudouion it wasn't Phillipe who would come after him, no, it was Albert. Only: if he would have lived until his 80th birthdya it made little sense to have Albert succeed. Nobody expected Baudouin to die at 63 already.
After the death of Baudouin there were some problems within the royal family about the inheritance. Paola and Fabiola had diiferent opinions and the courtiers had to show who they agreed with. Most of them of course chose for the new Queen.
Informer 2: Fabiola and Paola aren't each opthers best friends, no. But over the years most troubles have beens orted out.
'Armed peace' says another of our sources.
Informer 1 says: in the mean time Paola feels assured. It went rather b*tchy at times. Paola even forbade Mathilde to have contact with Fabiola for a while! Mathilde and Fabiola do get along very well you see.
Probably Fabiola appreciates the empathy of Mathilde, says LTdB. SHe is also able to listen to the voice of people in need.
BCdL: As far as I know Fabiola never gave the impression to be bored at an official function.
HUMO: Paola does?
BCdL: Those are your words. Paola has oldfashioned ideas about kingship. If it would be dependant on her we would go back to the time when people were still 'sujets'. When she just bacame Queen she told prime minister Dehaene that she would appreciate it if ministers would wear white tie when she would be around. The prime minister told his cabinet that the fiorst one who would do that would be fired.
Albert, Mathilde and Fabiola perfectly know their place in the constitutional monarchy. They know what their limited role is. Paola doesn't and the crownprince doesn't either. He seeks confrontation with politics and the press. In his eyes he has a mission, his view on a monarchy didn't adapt to the 21st centruy, not even to the 20th century maybe.
HUMO: How will that be solved?
Source: In the old days you had huntinf accidents, but that is impossible these days (laughs). No, if he becomes king that will be accompanied with a lot of conditions. Politicans say off the record: if you will let Phillipe have his way without interfering you would have one incident after another.
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