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BelgiumThe Netherlands

Climate change, crowds and even more tiaras for day 2 of the Dutch State Visit to Belgium

The second day of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima’s State Visit to Belgium began bright and early, despite the glittering banquet from the night before. 

The first stop for the day was Gare Maritime à Tour & Taxis, in Brussels, where the Dutch royals were joined by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians to attend Climate Tech Forum, a forum on climate technology.

The forum focused on finding technological solutions to the climate change crisis, a topic that has touched both countries, even in recent years, with floods affecting vast areas of Belgium and parts of the Netherlands in 2021. 

The two couples then separated, with King Willem-Alexander and King Philippe travelling to Louvain-La-Neuve for a visit to the AeroSpace Lab, where they were given a tour of the White Room. 

The lab focuses on the research and development of mini-satellites, as well as the use of personal data of companies and individuals that are transmitted via those satellites. 

Meanwhile, Queen Mathilde and Queen Máxima travelled to Waterloo, where they visited the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel to watch a piano and violin masterclass with two Dutch artists. 

The Music Chapel welcomes around 70 students every year, both Belgians and foreigners and is considered one of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country. It is also in charge of organising and hosting the Queen Elisabeth Music Prize, of which Queen Mathilde has been patron since 2014.

The four royals then reunited for a working lunch at Seneffe Castle, centred around the topic of water management, with the two Kings agreeing that a transnational approach is essential to tackle the issue. 

The afternoon began at BioPark in Charleroi, where the four arrived after a short trip. The facility is a pole for biotechnology firms, and the royals were given a specific focus on the works of two of them. 

Ncardia is a Belgian-Dutch company, and its focus is the production of drugs and therapies starting from stem cells. Catalent is the biggest firm operating in BioPark, and its focus is on the research aspect of pharmaceutical production, for which they hire young talents, some of whom had a chance to speak with the royals. 

Still in Charleroi, the Dutch and Belgian monarchs visited the Saint-André Institute, where they viewed the mural realised by Belgian artist Christian Durieux and Dutch artist Dido Drachman on the occasion of the summer festival “Canal, Pays Bas x Pays-Noir.” 

They also had a chance to speak with some of the students enrolled in the classes offered within the context of the festival, as well as going for a bain de foule (crowds bath, which many know as a walkabout). 

The day ended with the “return gala,” a tradition that is slowly disappearing from State Visits, which made this event even more special. The Dutch King and Queen offered a concert to the Belgians to thank them for their hospitality. 

The concert was played by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and was hosted at Flagey, in Brussels, where the Dutch King and Queen have been based for the State Visit. For the occasion, both Queens decided to sneak in some tiaras by wearing them in their necklace forms: Queen Máxima chose the diamond bandeau with a citrine pendant, while Queen Mathilde opted for her Laurel Wreath tiara, which she received as a wedding gift.