King Philippe, Queen Mathilde, Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz and Prince Laurent of Belgium have commemorated the end of World War I which occurred exactly 100 years ago. Belgium played a crucial role in the First World War.
In the morning, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde paid tribute to the fallen soldiers of World War One, World War Two and of the humanitarian and peacekeeping missions since 1945. The pair headed to the Congress Column in Brussels where King Philippe laid a wreath and took the salute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Members of federal government, the Parliament and Senate were also in attendance. Prime Minister Charles Michel also laid a wreath at the foot of the Unknown Soldier.
King Philippe also held a speech as it was precisely 100 years ago at 11 am this morning that the Armistice put an end to a devastating First World War. His Majesty spoke of the Armistice as he said: “Exactly one hundred years ago, at this very moment, the call of bugles all along the front announced the ceasefire. Led by King Albert I, the Belgian army had shown great courage in recapturing our country. The sound of the bugles heralded the end of a war that had spread death and destruction, one that would leave deep scars on soldiers and civilians alike.”
At the end of his speech, the King turned to the young generations as he had a special message for them: “I would like to say to the young people here, the day will come when we will no longer enjoy the heartening presence of the veterans who defended our territory. I am committed to keeping alive, with you, the memory of those who sacrificed themselves for us and the values for which they fought.”
In the afternoon, the King and Queen were joined by the King’s sister, Princess Astrid and her husband, Prince Lorenz as they attended a concert of remembrance at the Bozar in Brussels. The Royal Family listened to, among other pieces, the world premiere of the War Requiem of the Belgian composer, Annelies Van Parys. The music was performed by the Belgian National Orchestra.
At the same time, Prince Laurent attended a remembrance ceremony in the city of Mons. He was there to ‘represent His Majesty the King’, which was the first time since 2015 that the Prince was asked to take on that role. The Prince showed up without wearing his Army uniform.
In the evening, the King and Queen headed to Ypres where a lot of soldiers lost their lives during World War I. During the day, 10,000 people headed to the city of Ypres to pay their respects. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended a ceremony at the Menin Gate. Every night at 8 pm, the Last Post is played by the local fanfare of the firefighters. This ceremony has been going on every day since 1918 except during the Second World War.
The King and Queen were joined by Prime Minister Charles Michel and representatives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Singer Ozark Henry sang “We Can Be Heroes” by David Bowie. At 8.10 pm, the Last Post was played like every day. During the Last Post, poppies dropped through the holes in the Menin Gate. This was followed by a minute of silence.