"Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Madrid, 1928 - Stuyvenberg Castle, Belgium, 2014. Personal Recollections"
The following are short tributes for Queen Fabiola. She was the royal patron of the European Museum Forum for many years. She is remembered by all who met her with admiration. We have collected some of our thoughts here to celebrate her life. If you would like to add your own, please contact us.
In 2005, I took a photo of Queen Fabiola visiting the Natural History Museum in Brussels. She was an inquisitive museum visitor, eager to know, always asking many questions. She was genuinely interested in all things and, especially, people around her. Queen Fabiola was, herself, a good storyteller. She once recalled that as a child she dreamt of becoming a policewoman, directing road traffic at a busy crossroads, and of selling pastries and coffees at a railway station cafe.
She took her position as EMF Patron very seriously, reading through the EMYA brochures and listening to candidates' presentations when she attended the sessions. After the final awards ceremony, she made a point of speaking with representatives of the winning museums, expressing her natural curiosity towards their work. In 2008 EMF presented her with a Russian church bell for her birthday, which I carried all the way from Moscow to Dublin. Months later I saw it in her Brussels palace, where she told me she rang it regularly when children came to stay with her to summon them to dinner. I don't have monarchist leanings nor sympathies but I was a true admirer of Queen Fabiola. (Personal memories of an EMF Trustee)
A slight but tremendously forceful lady, whose style - almost of another era - never took away from her sense of humour. She recalled quietly one time how exciting it would have been to have married a policeman rather than a king - a comment that showed her natural curiosity and rarefied understanding of the "real" world.
(Personal memories of an EMF Trustee)
During the EMYA meeting that was held in Barcelona in 1995, Kenneth Hudson approached Queen Fabiola asking her to become a patron of EMF. She accepted graciously.
Queen Fabiola was a gentle person. She had genuine cultural interests and was a supporter of heritage and museums.
I met her during a holiday she spent on the island of Tinos in the Cyclades, as a guest on the Van der Stoel estate. She was visiting Greece for her vacation, and I had the chance of meeting her and appreciating her knowledge of Greek history.
Tinos, shaped for centuries by its Venetian rulers, has both Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic communities. I imagine, as a fervent believer herself, she appreciated the religious mix of the islanders. Queen Fabiola would visit the city port of Tinos and became known and appreciated by the islanders for her simplicity. She visited the Church of Panagia Megalohari which houses the reputedly miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, the archaeological Museum of the island with collections dating back to the Mycenean period - all tourist landmarks which, surprisingly, she visited unescorted.
Her interest and admiration of classical Greek culture accompanied her throughout her life.
(Personal recollections of an EMF Trustee)