“A unique opportunity to discover the royal trains”, the website introduces the exhibition.
“From the construction of the first rail line in 1835 to the present day, the Belgian royal family has always had a special relationship with trains and shown unwavering support for expanding the railway network in Belgium and in Europe. This temporary exhibition lets you discover the rich railway heritage of the Belgian royal family through documents and period objects from our archives and those of the Royal Palace. Exceptionally, five royal coaches, most never shown in public, will be unveiled for the first time at Train World.”
The exhibition opens on 10 May 2022 and runs until 22 January 2022. Until then, the museum is closed.
As with previous exhibitions, such as the Orient Express and the China exhibitions, objects, panels, photos and indeed the carriages are integrated in the museum and set apart in a separate area. A nifty solution as it thus offers a ‘free’ update for the collection and it makes you be interested in the museum as a whole.
‘Royals & Trains’ looks into the relationship between the Royal Family of Belgium and train travel, but also how trains hosted foreign crowned heads on official and state visits but also hosting kings, queens, princes and princesses from Spain, Greece and Monaco on a weekend with King Baudouin I and Queen Fabiola to the Ardennes.
The Belgian monarchs have been avid train users since the beginning. By inaugrating the first railway and train ride on the 5th of May 1835, between Mechelen and Brussels, King Leopold I became the first head of state to travel by train.
This and more trivia is all presented throughout the museum.
The royal carriages
The main dish is the hall with the royal carriages. Two of them are part of the permanent collection, but the others are temporarily exhibited.
- The Royal Berline from 1901, used by King Leopold II and his nephew King Albert I.
- The dining and conference car from 1905.
- The dining and saloon car from 1911.
- The saloon coach from 1939, used by King Leopold III and King Baudouin.
- The dining car from 1939.
And don’t worry, those coaches also had sleeping cabins.
Nowadays, there’s no special royal carriages. King Albert II and King Philippe I have used standard NMBS / SNCB rolling. Nicely cleaned, and provided with the royal coat of arms. The last time was in 2019 for the state visit to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Perhaps you noticed we don’t have photos of the outside of the coaches. Neither Famo, nor Danny nor I thought of photographing the liveries.
Perhaps because they are understated. Nothing flashy. Discreet maroon and discreet dark green. Also, the lay-out of the museum hall does not provide for decent photos of a whole carriage. Which is a drawback.
Again, Train World did a more than decent job to present the subject, with exclusive objects, rarely seen artifacts and the royal coaches.
Unfortunately you can’t go inside. I also have an issue with Hall 3. You can make really nice photos of the coaches. It’s hard to go have enough recoil and the light is not really photo friendly.
But other than that it is an interesting exhibition and topic.
Railway and transport museums
- REVIEW | Orient-Express exhibition at Train World, Brussels’ railway museum.
- REVIEW | Train World exhibition ‘From Peking to Hankow: a Belgian adventure in China’.
- PHOTOS | Train World railway museum in Brussels.
- Railway and transport museums (not) to visit.
- Nuremberg Transport Museum / DB Museum.
- Slovenian Railway Museum in Ljubljana.
- VIDEO | Mail Rail and The Postal Museum in London.
- Train World to operate steam train between Brussels and Mechelen.
- PHOTOS | Museo del Ferrocarril de Madrid Delicias railway museum.
- VIDEO | Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya – Catalonia Railway Museum in Vilanova.
- REVIEW | Romanian Railway Museum ‘Muzeul CFR’ and Bucharest.
- PHOTOS | UK’s National Railway Museum (NRM) in York.
- PHOTOS | Swiss Museum of Transport Verkehrshaus in Lucerne.
- PHOTOS | Het Spoorwegmuseum – Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht.
- VIDEO | Return to Spoorwegmuseum Utrecht for the dining car exhibition ‘Tosti’s, truffels, treinen’.
- RIDE & DINE | Orient Dining Express by Stoomtrein Maldegem-Eeklo.
- VIDEO | Stoomtram Hoorn – Medemblik steamtram light rail in Holland.
- Visiting Odense and the Danish Railway Museum.
- Deutsches Museum’s Verkehrszentrum or Transport Centre in Munich.