4 December 1999 – Philippe married Mathilde

I can’t believe it is 20 years ago that I travelled all the way to Brussels – about five hours by train – for the wedding of Prince Philippe, the Duke of Brabant, and Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz. The engagement surprisingly was announced on 10 September 1999, and was followed by the presentation of the couple to the public on my 26th birthday, 13 September 1999, making me the same age as the bride, who was born in January 1973. It made that I was extra interested in the wedding, the first really big one I ever went to. For a while I even copied Mathilde’s hairstyle, a bob.

On that very cold wedding day, 4 December 1999, I got out of my bed early and found myself quite a good spot in front of the cathedral. I was joined by three people I knew from the internet, from Belgium, Portugal and Brazil. The Portuguese even had a tiny television set, so we could watch a bit of the civil ceremony that took place first. Through boxes, so we could hear what was going on at the town hall. There was media, interviewing onlookers at the cathedral. While waiting the decoration was put up and the red carpet appeared. And then the guests arrived. It was the first time I’d ever seen so many international royals.

I remember I got colder and colder. And when the bride and groom were finally inside, I can admit now, I left the cathedral square and went to a place with a tv and heating. I had been pretty dizzy because of the cold, so I thought it was better to go and get warm a bit. I came back before the end of the long service, which I think was almost two hours long. Of course there were a few rows of people in front of me, so I didn’t see as much as I had hoped for. So much for a December wedding. At least I was warm enough to hurry with the others to the royal palace for the balcony scene. Not surprisingly that appearance wasn’t long enough to our liking.

We went back to the cathedral and managed to get in, as the doors had opened. I was totally shocked to see that people actually tried to steal the flowers, that were supposed to be inside the cathedral for another week or so. Apart from in Spain in 2004 I’ve never seen anything like that again. Policemen even had to protect the flowers. I went back the next day to attend a French mass, before returning home. Imagine I still have a tiny paper flag of the bridal couple that I took home with me.

A bit more extensive report by me.

I was going to scan you a few of my very bad, non digital pictures. I took them out of a scrapbook recently, and thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to find them back. However it took me two hours to remember where they were. Sorry for the quality, and all I took were a few snapshots without guests or bridal couple.

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