Hundreds of people paid their last respects to Queen Fabiola at the Royal Palace in Brussels today, between 1pm and 5pm. The 45 minute queue reached the gates. The public will also be allowed in on Thursday between 9am and 5pm. The people present brought bouquets of flowers which were left on the steps outside the Palace. They were also able to leave cards at the entrance to the large lobby on the first floor.
The Queen’s body, guarded by four soldiers, was surrounded by bouquets of white roses. The public also brought apples, a reference to the Queen’s response to an assassination threat involving a crossbow in 2009.
In the queue, King Baudouin’s name was on everyone’s lips. For many, Fabiola’s death marks the end of a reign. Many of those present to pay their last respects to the Queen said they were royalists.
“I wanted to be there for the Queen, as I couldn’t come for King Baudouin. There were too many people. But his death was a shock for Belgium. No one was expecting it. People were paralyzed by it. That isn’t the case with Fabiola, but it’s the end of an era”, explained a 63 year old man, who had come from Waterloo.
Peter, 28, isn’t a royalist but wanted to be present at this historic moment. “A Queen hasn’t died in Belgium for nearly 50 years. The last was Queen Elizabeth. I thought Fabiola had a good sense of humour, and was open to young people”.
“She was close to people”, adds Marthe, 70, who had come from Binche with her husband. “We are monarchists. For Belgium, the royal family is an image of stability, sense of duty and kindness”.
“We have an exemplary royal family, which is part of our country’s identity, and they unite us”, says Eléonore, 42, who brought her six children with her. “Because she couldn’t have children herself, she said all the children of Belgium were hers. We wrote in the book that she should continue to watch over Belgium’s children”, she said.