Thursday, 30 March 2017

A fresh look to State Visits on day two of #BELDK2017

A royal quartet talks tourism on day two of the Belgian State Visit to Denmark
(photo MonarchieBe Twitter)

If the focus on the film industry and tourism hadn't given day two of the Belgian State Visit to Denmark a fresh feel, the the sight of a king and a crown prince going for a quick run before the gala event got started certainly shook things up. The second part of this picture perfect visit, a whole day of royal events on March 29th 2017. was all about State Visits in the 21st century, adding plenty of new to the traditional elements that make these events so much more than carriage rides, tiaras and hats.  Although there were also plenty of hats. Welcome to Day Two of #BELDK2017.

In fact, before we go any further, let's just admire the fact that all State Visits now seem to come with a hashtag. It's something that the Swedish Royal Family noticeably started just a few years ago and now it's almost as compulsory as the State Dinner itself. It does make life easier - and following the events easier. And surely that's the whole point. State Visits might look pretty but they're all about building links and strong foundations for future relationships. There's no point doing that discreetly and hoping it makes the papers or glossies in the days to come.

So, if you clicked on the hashtag #BELDK2017 on day two, what would you have found? Quite a lot of Mary and Mathilde. The Queen of the Belgians and the Crown Princess of Denmark started the day with a roundtable discussions about the work of the Mary Foundation before heading to the Amaeger Fallad School to see the organisation's anti bullying programmes at work.

Both Queen Mathilde and Crown Princess Mary have built up strong reputations for their work with young people, particularly in harder areas like bullying and aggression. It's another reason this State Visit has had such a fresh feel - these aren't just engagements chalked in to pass the time, these are issues that the protagonists are really involved in and on which they have opinions and experience. Likewise, their visit to the UN City in Copenhagen - both women have strong relationships with the organisation and have been involved in high level meetings and addresses for it - before an academic lunch at the Amalienborg Palace.

Philippe and Frederik, meanwhile, were ticking the traditional State Visit boxes. These events are about economics, business links and building trade between nations so the King of the Belgians and the Crown Prince of Denmark attended a reception at Copenhagen City Hall about innovation before heading to a business forum about innovation and the digital economy. There was also an engagement to hear about work improving train management systems - a building block of the event even if we were all far more excited about the prospect of royals talking movies.

All four met up again at an event promoting Belgian culture. There were films, there was tourism talk, there were chocolates. Come on, it's Belgian culture, of course there were chocolates. Clearly, Mary had had words with Frederik - during the State Visit by the President of Iceland last month, the king in waiting had eaten his way through a whole table of food on a working visit but this time round, he looked and smiled and walked away.

Maybe he's on a health kick because just when we were all settling down to get ready for gala gowns at dusk, Philippe and Frederik headed out on a run. Yes, a run. The two men had a good old jog to clear the cobwebs and shared the images on official royal social media. State Visits really are changing.

But not so much that the well brought up guests don't say thank you. Day two ended with a concert hosted by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde in honour of their main host, Queen Margrethe II.

It was Margrethe's only appearance on day two and also the sole chance to see Prince Joachim and Princess Marie during this part of the State Visit.

No tiaras this time round but plenty of gala gowns. Mathilde and Mary kept it bright in colours that should clash but worked together. A fitting end to day two where everything had worked together to perfection and added a whole fresh feel to the way State Visits take place.

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