Today, the royal family and the people of Belgium celebrate the country’s National Day, and the tenth anniversary of the accession of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde.
King Phillippe of the Belgians, now 63, is the elder son of King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium. He’s a great-great-great-grandson of King Leopold I, the first Belgian monarch, through Leopold’s third son, Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders.
Philippe became monarch on July 21, 2013, when his father, King Albert II, abdicated for health reasons. He was accompanied by his wife, Mathilde, who became the nation’s first Belgian-born queen consort on his accession.
Queen Mathilde was elegant in diamonds and pearls on Philippe’s inauguration day in 2013, wearing her diamond and pearl wedding earrings and a pair of diamond bracelets.
Philippe and Mathilde were joined by their four children (Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel, and Eleonore) at their inauguration, plus his parents, King Albert and Queen Paola, and his aunt, Queen Fabiola.
This month, the Belgian court released a new set of portraits of Philippe and Mathilde to celebrate the upcoming tenth anniversary of his accession.
The pictures include a set of images featuring day wear and another set showing the couple in evening attire. Here, Queen Mathilde wears a chic white day dress with an important pair of diamond and pearl drop earrings.
The earrings are a legacy from King Philippe’s late aunt, Queen Fabiola. Born in Spain, she married King Baudouin of Belgium in 1960. She wore the earrings often throughout their 33-year marriage.
Queen Fabiola wore the earrings for both day and evening engagements, a pattern that Queen Mathilde has also followed. Here, she wears the earrings with the Wolfers Tiara during a state visit from Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands in March 1981.
Mathilde has been the sole wearer of the earrings since Fabiola’s death in 2014. Here, she pairs them with the Wolfers Tiara and the necklace setting of the Brabant Laurel Wreath Tiara for an official dinner in Poland in 2015.
Mathilde usually reserves the earrings for more important or significant daytime occasions, like the recent coronation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom.
The second set of new portrait images show Philippe and Mathilde in all their gala splendor.
Philippe wears a military uniform and the insignia of Belgium’s highest order of chivalry, the Order of Leopold.
In the pictures, Queen Mathilde also wears the insignia of the Order of Leopold, plus a purple gown that matches the vibrant shade of the order’s sash. With the gown and decorations, she wears one of the most important jewels in the Belgian royal vaults: the Nine Provinces Tiara.
The tiara was a wedding gift to Philippe’s grandmother, Queen Astrid of Belgium, in 1926. The tiara was made by a Belgian jeweler, Van Bever, and was a gift from the people of Belgium. The tiara features a distinctive, tilting meander base, which can be worn separately as a bandeau, a choker necklace, or a bracelet. It’s topped by a series of arches containing large round diamonds. The arches were a later addition on Astrid’s direction.
Queen Astrid tragically died very young. Afterward, some of her jewels—including this tiara, in various formats—were worn by her husband’s second wife, Princess Lilian. But in 1960, when King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola were married, the tiara was transferred to her collection. She wore the complete diadem on their wedding day in December 1960.
After King Baudouin’s death in 1993, Queen Fabiola handed the tiara over to her sister-in-law, who was now Queen Paola. She wore the tiara throughout her husband’s reign as well.
And when King Albert II abdicated ten years ago, it was Queen Paola’s turn to hand over the tiara to the new queen consort, Mathilde. She wore the bandeau setting of the tiara for the first time in an official portrait taken at the time of the accession. She’s also wearing her wedding earrings and Queen Fabiola’s Diamond Fringe Brooch.
Queen Mathilde also sometimes wears the complete version of the diadem, usually for the most important diplomatic gala occasions. We most recently saw her wear the full tiara during the Dutch state visit to Belgium in June.
She’s also worn the full setting of the tiara, plus a pair of her diamond fringe earrings, for these new portraits. I think it’s meaningful that she chose the full diadem for the 10th anniversary portraits, when she wore just the bandeau for her initial formal portrait as queen consort ten years ago. She’s certainly matured into her role, something represented by the full Nine Provinces Tiara.