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Recently, word was received of the passing of Queen Fabiola of Belgium. Fabiola de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish noblewoman, was born in 1928 and married King Baudouin of the Belgians in 1960. She was universally respected and continued to be a much loved “Extra Queen” long after the death of her husband in 1993. She was thus a widow – a dowager – for 23 years, which is a long time, but nowhere near a record …
    Queen Victoria lost her Albert in 1861 and made something of a career of her grief, dressing in black and wearing a widow’s cap, for the rest of her life. She mourned her husband for 40 years, and yet she can’t be described as a “dowager” since she was in fact the sovereign herself, reigning for all those years. Thanks to Downton Abbey and Maggie Smith, the world outside the UK is nowadays also fully aware of the concept “dowager”, a word that in the rest of the world was otherwise mostly used for the mother of the last Tsar of Russia, Dagmar or Maria Feodorovna. She was the “dowager empress”, a position she had from 1894 to 1928 – 34 years. Still, not a record:
  1. Empress Zita of Austria  1922-1989  67 years
  2. Empress Charlotte of Mexico   1867-1927  60 years 
  3. Queen Giovanna of Bulgaria   1943-2000  57 years
  4. Hereditary Grand Duchess Auguste of Mecklenburg-Schwerin   1819-1871  52 years
  5. Duchess Maria Antonia of Parma   1907-1959  52 years
  6. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother   1952-2002  50 years
  7. Grand Duchess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin   1842-1892  50 years
  8. Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach   1758-1807  49 years
  9. Grand Duchess Feodora of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach   1923-1972  49 years
  10. Queen Maria Christina of Spain   1833-1878  45 years
  11. Queen Emma of The Netherlands   1858-1934   44 years
  12. Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden   1818-1860  42 years
  13. Queen Geraldine of Albania   1961-2002  41 years

The Scandinavian term “Änkedrottning” [Queen Widow] was normally used in those countries, but the tradition ended with Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who chose to remain “Queen” after the death of her husband, King Frederik IX. And as for dowager kings or consorts, there have not been too many. One is however portrayed in the family album in this issue; King Consort Ferdinand of Portugal. 

                                                                                                                           Ted Rosvall

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