The announcement of the engagement came as a complete surprise to the country as Philippe and Mathilde had kept their relationship a secret, and the Belgian people had figured Philippe was too set in his ways to bother with marriage. The hastiness of the marriage led to claims the marriage had been arranged, however the couple quickly dispelled those rumours by confirming they were very much in love and the nation quickly fell in love with their future queen.
Philippe, Duke of Brabant, married Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz on 4 December 1999 in Brussels, Belgium, There were two ceremonies, the first, a civil one at Brussels Town Hall, was followed by a religious service at the Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula.
Mathilde’s dress, designed by Edouard Vermeulen of Natan, was a silk crepe coat with a tall collar and long sleeves with a simple sheath dress underneath as befitted a winter wedding. The coat was fastened with buttons and had a trim line around the waist, however, the back flared out into a long and dramatic train, 4 or 5 meters in length.
The Brussels lace veil, a family heirloom dating back to 1877, was also worn by Queen Paola, Philippe’s mother, and his sister, Astrid. The veil was held in place by Queen Elisabeth’s Diamond Bandeau, a tiara on loan from Paola.