Queen Elisabeth braved the curse of Tutankhamen?



On 22 November 1922, Howard Carter discovered an undisturbed pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile, in Luxor. As soon as the news reached Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, she decided to go there to take part in the opening of Tutankhamun's hypogeum, more than three millennia after it had been sealed, in theory for eternity.


"I've always been a woman of passions. Some are known, others less so. One of these is my passion for ancient Egypt," wrote Elisabeth; she proved it by promptly telegraphing Lord Carnarvon, the financier of the excavations, to ask if she would be allowed to join him; permission was of course granted. When the Egyptian authorities heard that the Queen of the Belgians' wanted to visit, King Fuad organised her visit with the help of the British High Commissioner, Lord Allenby.


Thus, in mid-February 1923, Sissi's goddaughter disembarked in Luxor in the company of her son Leopold, the future king, and his Egyptologist friend Jean Capart, and on 19 February the Queen entered what was considered the archaeological discovery of the century. For the occasion, she opted for a long white coat with a fur collar... at 35° Celsius; the international press photographers had a field day.


The sovereign was overwhelmed with emotion and enthusiasm, so much so that on her return she set up the Queen Elisabeth Egyptological Foundation, which remains one of the richest Egyptological and papyrological libraries in Europe, if not the world.