On Friday, the Queen of the Belgians headed to the nation’s oldest city for a special coronation procession—but one that involves a statue, not a reigning monarch.
Queen Mathilde was in Tongeren, the oldest city in Belgium, for Friday’s Kroningsfeesten events. The city, located in Limburg in the country’s Flemish region, was the Roman capital of the Civitas Tungrorum district, and parts of the Roman city wall still exist today.
The city is also home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Tongeren. The impressive cathedral was built in the 13th century, but archaeological excavations on the site have shown that a building existed in the same location as early as the 4th century.
In 1497, Belgian artisans carved a magnificent statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus out of walnut. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII granted permission to have the statue crowned. The coronation of the statue took place the following year, and a grand religious procession was held in Tongeren to mark the occasion. The celebrations, now known as “Kroningsfeesten,” have been repeated every seven years since, with only one exception. The 1918 procession was, as you can imagine, canceled because of the ongoing war.
Queen Mathilde has attended Kroningsfeesten four times since her 1999 royal wedding. She attended with King Phillipe (when they were still Duke and Duchess of Brabant) in 2002 and 2009.
In July 2016, both King Philippe and Princess Elisabeth joined Queen Mathilde as she watched the procession.
This year, Queen Mathilde attended the event solo.
She wore a floral dress from Natan with burgundy accessories for this year’s celebrations.
She accessorized with an interesting pair of earrings and several familiar bracelets.
Here’s a closer look at the earrings, which have distinctive opaque heart-shaped pendants. The earrings also feature red gemstones with gold accents.
Mathilde stacked two gold bracelets—a bangle tipped with red gemstones and a chain bracelet with gemstones and medal pendants—on her left wrist.
She finished off the look with her gold wedding ring, worn on her right hand, and her diamond and blue gemstone ring on her left.