Each year on 15 November the Belgian Royal Family celebrates King’s Feast, a celebration held in honour of the King. This year King Albert, Queen Paola, Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz and Prince Laurent attended the celebration. On King’s Feast the Belgians honour and celebrate their King.
The day kicked off with a Te Deum at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels. The new archbishop Jozef De Kesel welcomed members of the royal family. King Philippe’s parents King Albert and Queen Paola came over from Italy to honour their son. The former King and Queen of Belgium nowadays live in Italy. Also, Philippe’s sister Princess Astrid, her husband Prince Lorenz and Philippe’s younger brother Prince Laurent were in attendance. Prince Laurent’s wife Claire was absent just like last year. No clear reason has been given as usual.
Today has been the first time since last year’s King’s Feast that the royal family was with so many members present at an official engagement. It is not a secret that the royal family is not that close. Prince Laurent arrived and didn’t pay any attention to his family. His mother Queen Paola tried to say hello but he completely ignored her. Princess Astrid greeted her parents warmly.
After the Te Deum the royals took some time to talk to the people that had gathered there to see them. Queen Paola said King Albert and she were “doing well but we’re quite old.”
In the afternoon the royals and the prominent guests were invited to a civil ceremony. This solemn meeting consists of speeches, music, testimonies and the honouring of deserving countrymen. This ceremony takes place in the Belgian parliament.
King’s Feast in Belgium is quite different than King’s Day in the Netherlands. In Belgium, it’s not an official holiday so most people have to go to work and don’t even realise it’s King’s Feast. There are only official celebrations at churches etc. but there are no festivities organised by the people. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are traditionally absent on this day. It would be strange for the King to celebrate and honour himself. Their children also didn’t attend the festivities as they are too young. However once they have reached the age of 18, they are expected to attend as well.