BRUSSELS (dpa) – A week of national mourning in Belgium culminated Friday with the state funeral of dowager queen Fabiola, the aunt of the country’s current monarch, attended by royals from around the world.
Danish Queen Margrethe II, former Spanish King Juan Carlos and his wife Sofia, as well as Japanese Empress Michiko were all due to attend the ceremony in the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, in central Brussels.
The frail 86-year-old passed away Friday evening. She was the widow of King Baudouin, who died in 1993.
Her coffin was carried to the cathedral early Friday, accompanied by the Belgian royal family and a 130-horse escort.
The country’s top politicians were present for the ceremony, as well as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Around 200 members of the public were also admitted to the cathedral.
Belgians often referred to Fabiola as their “queen of hearts”, praising her social deeds, love of Baudouin and religious fervour.
Many sympathised with her after a series of miscarriages left her without a direct descendant.
The public had a chance to pay their last respects on Wednesday and Thursday.