To Top

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde kick off their State Visit to Canada with a big mistake from the Canadians

This morning, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians arrived in Canada for their 5-day State Visit. Their Majesties are in Canada at the invitation of Julie Payette, the Governor General, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. The State visit will bring Their Majesties to Ottawa, Toronto and Montréal.

Most of the day went smoothly, but all most can talk about is the mix up of placing German flags instead of Belgian ones. It started with the German flag that covered the tree which King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola planted.

A government spokesperson said: “On the occasion of Their Majesties’ State visit to Canada, a total of 28 Canada/Belgium flags (24 along the driveway leading to the residence, 2 at the tree planting ceremony and 2 mini sets of flags planted at the base of the 2 trees planted by King Baudoin and Queen Fabiola of the Belgians in 1977) were displayed on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

“While we were preparing for the tree planting ceremony, it was brought to our attention that there was one small German flag at the base of the tree planted by Queen Fabiola. As soon as we were informed, we rectified the situation immediately, prior to Their Majesties’ arrival at the tree planting.

“As for the Governor General’s speech, she acknowledged Their Majesties and the Belgian delegation in their official languages: Dutch, French and English. Here are the salutations she delivered in Dutch: Uwe Majesteiten de Koning en Koningin der Belgen, welkom in Canada! Welkom in Rideau Hall!”

On Monday morning, The King and Queen landed at the airport of Ottawa, the city in which they also spent their first day. They were received by the governor general of Canada, Julie Payette at her home Rideau Hall, the official residence of the acting governor general. The pair arrived by carriage accompanied by the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, surrounded by the snowy landscape. As a tribute to Canada, Queen Mathilde wore a red coat and a hat in the same colour. King Philippe inspected the Canadian troops.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Belgium. Pictures: Denis Brever (CAN), FPS Foreign Affairs

Both the King and the Governor General gave a speech. King Philippe talked about his passion for space as Julie Payette is a former astronaut. The King also spoke about Belgium’s special bond with the country as he said: “We are here to celebrate the past, to say thank you and be grateful for what the Canadian soldiers did. We own our freedom to those soldiers who came to our country to fight 100 years ago during the First World War and then again during the Second World War. Belgium doesn’t forget what you’ve done for us.” 

The Queen and King with the Governor General of Canada. Photo: FPS Foreign Affairs

There was also time to speak to members of the Belgian community in Ottawa. Then the traditional tree planting ceremony took place. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde planted their maple sugar tree close to the two maple trees that King Philippe’s uncle King Baudouin and aunt Queen Fabiola planted during their State Visit in 1977. Queen Mathilde switched her high heels for some Uggs boots before she made her way through the snow. The State Visit of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola was the first ever State Visit from Belgium to Canada.

Queen Mathilde plants a tree. Photo: Denis Brever (CAN), FPS Foreign Affairs


Their Majesties said goodbye to the governor, and they made their way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where they laid a wreath. At the National War Memorial, the King and Queen also signed the guest book.

Photo: FPS Foreign Affairs

Their Majesties also met with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Speaker of the Senate of Canada. In the evening the King and Queen will attend the traditional State Dinner on the first evening of their official visit. The dinner is offered by Governor General Julie Payette and will take place at her official residence.

Photo: FPS Foreign Affairs

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde have travelled to Canada with a delegation of 211 people. The delegation includes representatives of the government such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Secretary of State Pieter De Crem and people from the business and academic world. What is somewhat odd is that the King and Queen will not meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is currently in crisis meeting about the taxes President Trump wishes to implement.


More in Belgian Royal Family