On Tuesday, on the occasion of Belgium’s National Day, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde observed a minute of silence in a fire station in Verviers, Belgium.
Their Majesties visited the station at the end of a day of private visits with people affected by the recent central Europe floods, as well as first responders.
Specifically, the King and Queen met with a representation of firefighters, police officers and EMTs who are conducting search and rescue operations following the devastation brought upon the country by unprecedented levels of out of season rainfalls.
The exact number of people who lost their lives and of those who are still unaccounted for is constantly changing; currently, Belgium registered 31 victims, amongst which the last one to be identified is a 15-year-old girl, and 116 are still unaccounted for, with 63 having given signs of life and 53 still being out of reach.
On Tuesday evening, tradition would have meant that a concert would have taken place in the Bozar, Brussel’s Centre for Fine Arts. However, due to the current weather emergency, the event was cancelled, and the King’s speech to mark the occasion has been entirely focussed on the two challenges Belgium is currently facing: the health crisis and the devastation of the flood.
2021’s National Day should have been a day of celebration. For the first time, Princess Délphine will attend the festivities as a member of the Royal Family, after King Albert II officially recognised her as his daughter and gave her the corresponding title in October of 2020. King Philippe was also supposed to see his daughter Elisabeth parade with the rest of her Belgium Military Academy classmates.
However, due to the current situation, with infections rising and countless people evacuated or without a livelihood, it is unclear how or even if the National Day celebration will look like anything we have seen in the past.