Thursday, 21 July 2016

Belgian National Day celebrations under way

Belgium's Royal Family at the Te Deum in Brussels this morning as the country's National Day celebrations get under way

It's the day the modern monarchy in Belgium began and the day that the most modern of those monarchs began his tenure - July 21st is a pretty special royal day. As Belgium marked its National Day and Philippe his third anniversary as King, his Royal Family began the day of celebrations by attending the traditional Te Deum service in Brussels.

King Philippe, who took his country's throne on July 21st 2013, attended the Te Deum at the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula with his wife, the first ever Belgian born queen of the country, Mathilde.

King Philippe leads his family on Belgium's National Day 2016

They were accompanied by their four children with Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant and heir to the throne leading the way.  Her two brothers, Prince Gabriel and Prince Emmanuel, and her little sister, Princess Eleonore, were also there.

Later in the day there will be a military parade as well as a concert to mark the day that Belgium welcomed Leopold of Saxe-Gotha- Saalfeld as its first monarch. Leopold I shaped the monarchy in his own image and in some ways his influence is still felt today. When Albert II surprised many by announcing his abdication, the day he chose to handover power was July 21st, symbolic and a way of ensuring the transition was as much a celebration as a changing of the guard.

Albert and Paola weren't at the cathedral but they may join in celebrations later on today. The success of Philippe and Mathilde's time in charge means that this day is very much about them now. A celebration for Belgium and for its very modern king and queen.

Photo credits: Monarchie Belge Twitter

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