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

BelgiumThe Netherlands

Biotech, Navy, art and a sad goodbye as the Dutch State Visit to Belgium draws to a close

Queen Maxima, Queen Mathilde, King Willem-Alexander, King Philippe

Thursday marked the last day of the State Visit that King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are paying to Belgium – but last doesn’t mean less busy. 

The day began in Leuven, where the four royals visited Imec. This facility works in research for the chip tech sector, which is assuming an increasing strategic relevance for the independence of Europe in the semiconductors industry. 

After a short trip, the two monarchs and their consorts arrived in Antwerp, the final city of their visit. After being welcomed by local authorities, the first order of business was a walkabout with the local population, including some school children that cycled from their homes to Big Market Square before they were given a tour of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. 

The museum has recently been reopened following a renovation based on the design of Dutch architect Dikkie Scipio. The collection spans seven centuries of art and includes pieces from Flemish Baroque artists like Rubens all the way to Primitives and Expressionists. 

Like on day two, Thursday also saw the royals undertake a working lunch in the Rubens Hall of the Museum, focusing on tackling youth unemployment. Young people shared their experience with the city having an overpopulation of people without diplomas and many open positions for people with MBOs. They also shared the crucial role educational institutions and employers played in promoting training and knowledge acquisition. 

King Willem-Alexander, King Philippe, Queen Máxima and Queen Mathilde then moved to Antwerp’s Port House, where they attended a roundtable discussion with port authorities and CEOs about Dutch-Belgian ports cooperation, as well as the key role ports play in the green transition and energy security. 

The Dutch and Belgian Navies have a level of cooperation that “has no equals in the world,” according to the Belgian Royal Household. Not only are the two countries home to two of Europe’s biggest ports (Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands), but they also maintain close communications about operations and common logistics management. 

From there, King Willem-Alexander and King Philippe boarded the Louise-Marie Frigate, where they listened to a brief about the new generation of frigates being developed in a partnership between the two countries. 

Meanwhile, Queen Máxima and Queen Mathilde went aboard De Ruyter Frigate. King Willem-Alexander and King Philippe even managed to get inside one of the helicopters used by the Louise-Marie, all while the rain started pouring. 

A bittersweet reminder of the goodbye that followed, with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde leaving their Dutch counterparts, after spending three days together. 

The Belgian Monarchy posted on Twitter: “Unfortunately, it is already time to say goodbye.  @koninklijkhuis, it was a pleasure to accompany you throughout these 3 days! See you soon!”. 

But King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima didn’t leave their neighbours just yet; their last item on the agenda was a reception with the Dutch community in Belgium, which they hosted at Antwerp’s former Trade Fair. 

The three-day State Visit was full of engagements on a wide array of topics, from environmental protection to climate change, from biotechnologies to port operations. All of them, however, served the purpose of underscoring the deep and string ties that bind not only the two royal families but the two countries at large. 

"; n.innerHTML = "window._taboola = window._taboola || [];_taboola.push({mode:'thumbnails-a', container:'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement:'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix'});"; insertAfter(t, e); insertAfter(n, t) }injectWidgetByMarker('tbmarker');