zondag 1 oktober 2017

New Neighbours at Laken

Since Fabiola's death in December 2014, the castle of Stuyvenberg, one of the buildings in the royal park of Laken has been vacant.

Stuyvenberg castle

None of the members of the royal family expressed the wish to move into Stuyvenberg, and the Belgian government did not wish to spend money on it... So court decided to rent it out to private citizens. Via an exclusive real estate agency new inhabitants have been found: baroness Michèle Sioen & Marc Galle.

Michèle Sioen and her daughter, Audrey Joris

Michèle Sioen is the director of VBO, The Union of Belgian Enterprises, and owns various textile companies. She's also a members of the Queen Elisabeth Music Contest board of direction. She has two sons and a daughter and was created a baroness in 2017.

Her husband, Marnix Galle, is the son of late socialist minsiter Marc Galle. Mr Galle owns a large real estate & development group that's mainly active in the Brussels region.

Marnix Galle

The couple are both among the top 100 of wealthiest Belgians and are no strangers to Philippe & Mathilde since they have met on numerous occasions, more than likely also privately since both couples are known to often spend free weekends in Knokke.

Before moving in, Mrs Sioen and Mr Galle will renovate the castle at their own expense. An actual move won't happen before the end of 2018.

Stuyvenberg Castle is closest to Villa Schonenberg, princess Astrid's home

The castle of Stuyvenberg has its origins in the 18th century.

It's first royal connection was through Arcadie Claret, king Leopold I's mistress who bought it and lived in it. It was at Stuyvenberg that she gave birth to Leopold's natural sons. After Leopold I's death in 1865, Arcadie sold the estate to king Leopold II. Since then it's part of the Royal Donation.

Many years later it was the happy home of king Leopold III and queen Astrid. Two of their children, Baudouin and Albert were born here. After Astrid's early death in 1935, the mourning family moved out.

King Albert II as a baby in 1934, at home in Stuyvenbergh

Leopold III's mother, queen Elisabeth then moved in and lived at Stuyvenbergh untill her death in 1965.

Queen Elisabeth with Norwegian king Olav in 1964 at Stuyvenbergh

For 30 years the castle was used to lodge foreign heads of state visiting Belgium.

From 1998 untill 2014 it was queen Fabiola's home.

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