REVIEW | ‘Royals & Trains’ exhibition at Train World in Brussels

Until 22 January 2023, Train World in Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek in Brussels is hosting the ‘Royals & Trains‘ exhibition. 

“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.

Famo, Danny and I had a look.

Integrated

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. 

They include

  1. The Royal Berline from 1901, used by King Leopold II and his nephew King Albert I.
  2. The dining and conference car from 1905.
  3. The dining and saloon car from 1911.
  4. The saloon coach from 1939, used by King Leopold III and King Baudouin.
  5. The dining car from 1939.

And don’t worry, those coaches also had sleeping cabins.

Nowadays

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.

Outside photos

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. 

So?

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 

Belgium’s coat of arms.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. elvira797mx says:

    So beautiful train, interesting post! Thank’s for share, Timothy,
    Have a nice day!
    Elvira

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      They are beautiful.

      Thank you. Have a great day, Elvira.

      Like

      1. elvira797mx says:

        You are welcome, Timothy.
        Exactly! You as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Denzil says:

    Thanks for this helpful review Timothy. I have posted it to my Discovering Belgium Facebook page. Have a great summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      I just noticed 🙂

      Thanks 😊

      Like

    2. Timothy says:

      And have a great summer as well.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Denzil Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s