King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians led members of the royal family in paying their respects to the late Queen Fabiola. The royal passed away at the age of 86 last Friday. Making their way to the chapel in the royal palace of Brussels, Philippe and Mathilde were pictured bowing their heads in silence and wrapping an arm around each other for comfort. The reigning couple, dressed in all black, were joined at the sombre affair by Philippe's parents King Albert II and Queen Paolo of Belgium, and Philippe's younger brother Prince Laurent.
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Queen Mathilde and King Philippe comforted each other as they visited the chapel
The grieving family stood in front of Queen Fabiola's open coffin, sharing a few private moments with the late Madrid-born royal. The following day members of the public were invited into the chapel for a few hours, to mark their respects and view the body of the queen, who was the widow of Belgian King Baudouin. Mourners had lined up and waited for hours outside the palace to say their final goodbye, ahead of the funeral that will take place in Brussels on Friday.
The Belgian royal family visited the chapel on Tuesday, the day before it was opened to the public
The chapel remained open from 1-5pm on Wednesday, and will again reopen on Thursday from 9am-5pm. In the town hall, a condolence book was set up for those wishing to leave a message. Queen Fabiola's funeral, which is expected to be attended by various European royals, will be held at 10am at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Philippe and Mathilde had already confirmed via the royal family's Twitter account that they would not undertake any official engagements until then.
Members of the public queue outside the royal palace to pay their respects to the late Queen Fabiola
Queen Fabiola, whose cause of death has not been confirmed, passed away in her castle Stuyvenberg in Brussels. The former queen consort had suffered from osteoporosis for years and had never fully recovered from a lung inflammation she had in 2009.
During recent appearances she had used a wheelchair and had looked increasingly frail. "Their majesties the king and queen and the members of the royal family announce with very great sadness the death of Her Majesty Queen Fabiola this evening at Stuyvenberg Castle in Brussels," a statement from the royal palace said.
Queen Fabiola's cause of death has not been announced
Fabiola became queen of Belgium when she married King Baudouin in 1960. She was queen for 33 years, until her husband died in 1993. As the couple had no children, the throne passed to King Baudouin's younger brother, who became King Albert II. He abdicated last July, passing the baton to his son, King Philippe.