SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Belgium’s royals alter State Visit plans as security threat level raised in Brussels following terror attack

The opening day of the State Visit of the President of Portugal to Belgium has been changed after a gun attack in Brussels saw the security threat level raised.

It now stands at the highest level in the Belgian capital and that’s impacted how the State Visit will begin. The change in status came after two people were killed after a gunman opened fire on a group of football fans in a cafe in the Schearbeek neighbourhood of the Belgian capital. A third person was injured in the attack which took place on the evening of October 16th 2023.

As police began their hunt for the killer, the threat level was raised. Police confirmed on October 17th 2023 that they had shot dead the attacker who had posted a video online claiming responsibility and saying he was a member of Islamic State.

Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, said that it was ”a harrowing act of terrorism”.

Both the people killed were Swedish nationals who were in Brussels to watch the Euro 2024 qualifier between Sweden and Brussels. They were in a cafe when they were shot.

Following the attack, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde spoke out on social media, saying ”We are shocked by tonight’s shooting in our capital. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the victims, their families and loved ones.”

They were due to welcome the President of Portugal on October 17th but with the security level remaining at its highest, those plans have been changed.

The ceremony at the start at the Royal Palace has been cancelled.

So, too, has the tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior which would have seen Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, lay a wreath alongside King Philippe.

The State Visit will continue with alterations.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.