Crowds in Brussels were treated to the sight of the whole Royal family attending church to celebrate the National Day. The Belgian King and Queen were joined by their four children; Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore, and Prince Laurent, the King’s younger brother. A Te Deum Service in the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula was followed by a march past of civilian organisations and military personnel outside the Royal palace.
For the service, both Queen Mathilde and Princess Elisabeth chose lace dresses, flesh coloured for the Queen and white for the Princess. Princess Eléonore wore a dress of baby blue. In the afternoon, the King and Queen went for a walkabout in the Royal Park and met and chatted with the crowds there.
The National Day in Belgium is July 21st, this dates back to a tempestuous time in the early part of the nineteenth century. The land of Belgium was ceded to the United Kingdom of Holland, after being part of the Duchy of Luxembourg in 1815. However, this was not an easy time as most people in Belgium were Catholic and Holland was mainly Protestant, and discontentment was caused by the apparent favouring of the Protestant north by King William I coupled with high unemployment in the South.
This reached the point of rioting in 1830 and demands for Belgium to have independence from Holland. There was a meeting of the major European powers in London and they recognised Belgian independence. The Belgian National Congress then had to consider who would rule the new country, and after deliberation invited Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg. He accepted and was proclaimed King of the Belgians in June 1831, before swearing allegiance to the constitution on 21 July 1831.
King Philippe can trace his lineage back to Leopold; his relationship being traced back to Leopold’s third son, Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders.