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BelgiumCoronavirus

Belgium’s royals lead three minute silence for coronavirus victims

King Philippe of the Belgians
Bas Bogaerts

The King and Queen of the Belgians led commemorations for those who have lost their lives to coronavirus as Belgium marked its National Day.

King Philippe, Queen Mathilde and their four children bowed their heads in remembrance as they joined a three minute silence for the 9,800 people who have died in the pandemic. The commemoration took place as the Royal Family participated in a Te Deum Mass at the Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula in Brussels on the morning of July 21st 2020.

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The Belgian Royal Family traditionally attends the Te Deum at the start of National Day celebrations. This year, numbers inside the cathedral were limited to just over 100 and all those participating, including the royals, wore masks throughout the service.

The heir to the throne, Princess Elisabeth, now 18, accompanied her youngest brother, Prince Emmanuel, 14, into the service. Her other brother, Prince Gabriel, 16, walked to his seat with the youngest of the Belgian royal children, Princess Eleonore, aged 12.

Afterwards, Philippe, Mathilde and their children posed for photos on the steps of the church. However, there was no walkabout to meet wellwishers, as is usual on National Day.

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The coronavirus pandemic also altered other aspects of National Day in Belgium. The traditional military parade was replaced by a ceremony to highlight the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic with King Philippe leading applause for some of them attending the ceremony. The monarch also gave a speech praising the ”guardians of our lives” including support and security services and giving thanks for ”all those who have contributed to our communal lives during this difficult period”.

There were also tributes to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two during the ceremony which took place in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels.

Queen Mathilde was also present along with King Philippe’s sister, Princess Astrid, and her husband, Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, and the monarch’s brother, Prince Laurent. Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore accompanied their family.

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The Royal Family ended this National Day by visiting care homes around Belgium.

National Day is always marked on July 21st in Belgium. It is also the anniversary of King Philippe’s accession – he took the throne on the abdication of his father, King Albert II, in 2013.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.