King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians are currently on a 5-day State Visit to Canada. The second day of the State Visit took place in Ottawa. Here’s what they have been up to:
Queen Mathilde started her day early with a breakfast meeting about the SDGs or the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Her Majesty is, along with several celebrities, activists and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, a special advocate for the SDGs. The Queen primarily focusses on the SDGs of quality education, poverty and gender equality. Queen Mathilde was joined by the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders as she met with the Canadian Deputy Development Minister Jacovella, development actors and people from the civil society.
Meanwhile, King Philippe visited the University of Ottawa and attended an academic-scientific seminar. The seminar was focussed on multilingual education. In Belgium, children are educated in Dutch and French and often choose a third language such as German or Spanish. In Canada, both English and French are recognised as national languages. The King spoke with several students of the university and said: “Learning a language is synonymous with self-development.”
At noon King Philippe attended a “power-lunch” with several Belgian and Canadian CEOs and the Canadian Minister of International Trade, François-P. Champagne. They talked about the importance of free trade in the face of the current climate of protectionist trends. The European Union and Canada recently agreed on the CETA-agreement, a free trade agreement.
Then it was time for some culture as King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited the National Gallery of Canada. Both Their Majesties are very much interested in art. The couple took their time to look around at all the different paintings and sculptures.
Then Their Majesties headed to yet another museum- the Canadian War Museum. The visit is part of the First World War Commemoration. The King and Queen received a tour around the museum and listened to several speeches. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde also spoke with Canadian veterans. King Philippe gave a speech as he said: “It is vital to confront our past in all its complexity, to scrutinise the actions or our forebears in their entirety, resisting any temptation to simplify.”
Then it was time for the third museum of the day – the Canadian Museum of Nature. The Royal couple were welcomed by the First Nation Chief, Georges Mackenzie of the Tlicho government. Philippe and Mathilde were informed about the traditional mining techniques and nature preservation. They also viewed an exposition on diamond mining. Today over 85% of the rough diamonds worldwide travel via Belgium. The city of Antwerp is also called the Diamond Capital.
The day ended with a concert offered by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Belgium to Canada. The Governor-General of Canada, Julie Payette was in attendance.
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. The State Visit brings Their Majesties to Ottawa, Toronto and Montréal.