Friday, April 23, 2010

Queen Fabiola

LadyLeana discusses the multifaceted, widowed consort of King Baudouin I. How Baudouin and Fabiola met and fell in love remains something of a mystery. Did Cardinal Suenens really play the mystical role he claimed in bringing the couple together? To quote:
In his book, Suenens talks about his role as a clerical matchmaker. Baudouin, according, to the cardinal, had informed him that he was really desperate to get married, and asked for his help. The cardinal introduced the King to Sister Veronica O’Brien in March 1960, who, on their first meeting, addressed him as Mister King. After a long conversation and after receiving a nocturnal vision of the Virgin Mary, Sister Veronica left for Madrid, where she met the papal nuncio Monsignor Antoniutti. He, in his turn, sent the Sister to the principal of a girls' school, who then referred her to Fabiola de Mora y Aragon. On their first meeting, Sister Veronica saw a picture in Fabiola’s apartment, of which she had dreamt the night before. The devout Sister saw this as an omen, and tried to persuade the young noblewoman to accept the King’s hand. But Fabiola kindly explained that she had her roots in Spain, and was not interested in a marriage with the Belgian King. Sister Veronica didn’t give in. In a letter to the King, she described Fabiola as “good looking and striking.” And even though Fabiola refused the offer at first, she agreed to meet the King after an intervention by the papal nuncio. They met in Sister Veronica’s apartment in Brussels, and here the cardinal suddenly becomes very discreet when describing the blind date he had helped arrange: “It is inappropriate to describe how roses burst and bloom.”
According to this story, the couple met a second time in Lourdes, France, at the beginning of July 1960. They both stayed in the same hotel, but in separate rooms. They spent their time talking, praying, and walking along the streets of the little town. Three days after their arrival, they were driving to Tarbes, when Fabiola suddenly asked Baudouin to park the car along the side of the road. They prayed together, three Hail Mary’s, after which Fabiola turned to the King and said “Now it’s yes, and I will not look back anymore.” An acceptance without proposal.
Of the above three stories, the last one is the most widely accepted. The cardinal’s book is filled with quotes from his private correspondence with the King and from the King’s diaries, which Baudouin had left to the cardinal in his will. There are other elements which support his story. The couple's yacht, for example, was named Avila, which, according to Suenens’ notes was Fabiola's codename. Baudouin himself even hinted in that direction. But Baudouin’s diaries only support the story of the acceptance in Lourdes, not of their first meeting. And Fabiola herself was not amused by Suenens’ book. She has, more than once, stated, “I have my story too,” which indicates that Suenens has taken some liberty in describing his role in the matchmaking. She also said, at one point, that she had refused Baudouin’s proposal several times “the first year,” which is also at odds with Suenens’ story, according to which they had not known each other for a year when they got married. We will probably never really know, since the Queen doesn’t give any interviews. But it is obvious that even Suenens’ scenario is not the entire story.
Recently, some people have claimed that the marriage of Baudouin and Fabiola was a marriage of convenience, and that, in the beginning they didn’t love each other at all. The story goes that Baudouin just thought that it was his duty as a monarch to produce an heir, for which he needed a wife, and Fabiola wanted to become a mother. As time went by, they found each other in their faith and really started to love each other. Whether this is true or not, only Fabiola can say. But if it had been true, they certainly gave a very good imitation of a couple in love when they married.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very strange story, but then the lives of Kings and Queens are never normal...

Jorge

Matterhorn said...

I don't care for Suenens, and I don't care for his meddling influence on King Baudouin.

Jorge said...

Were the King's diaries published? I once read a few lines about him being in Rome on a general audience with the Pope. His faith was very deep.

Jorge said...

Do you have a bad opinion about Cardinal Suenens?

Matterhorn said...

There are excerpts of the diaries in Suenen's book about the King.

http://openlibrary.org/b/OL22474040M/Baudouin_king_of_the_Belgians

I don't care for Suenens, first of all, because I think he was a modernist and a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

Furthermore, if he really had such an influence on the King's choice of wife, it seems like undue influence to me. Choosing a future consort was something that ought to have been discussed primarily with the royal family, but apparently, it was not.

If he did not have such an influence on the choice of wife, I don't see what right he had to pretend to have exerted such an influence, in his book.

Jorge said...

Thank you for the link, Matterhorn. I'm also not fond of those "modernists" inside the Church.
Do you like Fabiola as Queen or as wife of Baudouin? And what is your general opinion about the Belgian royal family?

Matterhorn said...

As Queen, she always seems to have carried out her duties well (as did Baudouin). She also seems to have been genuinely very devoted to her husband. My only reservation about Baudouin and Fabiola is their involvement with liberal clerics such as Suenens.

As for the Belgian royal family in general, I think like all men and women they have their "lights and shadows," as you once put it.

Jorge said...

Thank you for the response, Matterhorn.

Matterhorn said...

You are welcome, Jorge.

My view of this topic is affected by my concerns about the post-Vatican II changes in the liturgy and sacraments. Due to the questions that have been raised over the years regarding even the validity of the new rites, I often actually attend the Eastern rite Catholics (not the Orthodox, but the actual Eastern Catholics) when I am unable to find a Tridentine Latin rite Mass.

Baudouin and Fabiola, however, seem to have been very much in favor of the changes in the Church.

Aimée said...

Dear Matterhorn,
I want to thank you for being so kind as to link back to my article. Always nice to know it is read and appreciated :)

Like you, I have my reservations about the Cardinal's real influence in Baudouin's choice. I am glad I am not alone in the matter, and sometimes I wish the Queen would tell us the true course of events...

Matterhorn said...

Thank you so much for the kind words, Aimee! I am glad I am not alone in my reservations, too.

Yvonne said...

Just to let you know that we've reprinted the above article at The Royal Universe (http://theroyaluniverse.com/articles/royal-personalities/queen-fabiola-woman-hairdo/), where Aimée is a major contributor, as you've noticed!

Matterhorn said...

Thank you for letting me know. I always enjoy Aimee's articles and I love visiting the Royal Universe.