Queen Paola of Belgium’s birthday is actually on 11 September, but she took the opportunity before the summer to get her entire family together. However, in true Prince Laurent style, he was 1.5 hours late and missed the concert and the cutting of the cake.
The grand party was held in the Music Chapel Queen Elisabeth in Waterloo where a classical concert took place with 150 guests. Among those invited were former employees of the palace and people who work for the Queen Paola Foundation, the Music Chapel Queen Elisabeth and Missing Children Europe, which are all foundations of which Queen Paola is the patron.
Queen Paola is still recovering from two unfortunate falls, where she broke a vertebra and her hip, but she showed up for her party without crutches. She held on to her husband, King Albert when descending the stairs.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were there with their family, just as Princess Astrid, her husband Prince Lorenz, their children (except for Princess Maria Laura) and their only grandchild, Anna Astrid. It was the first time little Anna Astrid appeared in front of the press. She is the daughter of Prince Amadeo and his wife Elisabetta and was born in May 2016. The little girl had a bit of a cry but was soothed by Princess Claire, who entertained her with a set of car keys. Princess Claire appeared with her three children, but Prince Laurent was nowhere to be found. The gathered press could not help but note the awkward empty chair next to Princess Claire during the concert.
During the cutting of the gigantic white and green cake from Wittamer, Queen Paola was assisted by her grandson, Prince Joachim who was able to reach the top. The smaller grandchildren helped blow out the candles.
The last time the entire family was together was for the wedding of Prince Amedeo and Elisabetta in 2014.