King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are back home in Belgium after a five-day State Visit to Canada. The King and Queen were invited by the Governor General Julie Payette.
After a short welcoming ceremony at the Toronto airport, the King and Queen met with Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in Queen’s Park. Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario, which has 14 million inhabitants. The King and Queen only stayed one day in Toronto.
Then, Philippe and Mathilde had a conversation with the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne. The Belgian ministers who had travelled along also took part in the meeting. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Dave Levac showed Their Majesties around the Legislative Assembly and let them sign the guest book. The King and Queen were impressed by the beautiful building and the golden sceptre.
To end the official programme, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde cleared some time in their schedule to meet with Dylan Atack and his parents. Dylan had written to the Canadian Embassy in Belgium to express his desire to meet the King and Queen during their State Visit. “Dylan has autism, and he wants to show that people with autism can also take part in society. Therefore, the King and Queen gladly accepted his request,” the Royal Palace commented.
Dylan Atack is fascinated by royals and celebrities and has so far met with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Dylan brought several gifts such as flowers, a hockey puck, an American football and shirts. The King and Queen’s youngest son Prince Emmanuel plays hockey, and Queen Mathilde said her son is going to be very happy with the puck. Dylan also expressed his love for Belgian cookies, waffles and chocolate which made Their Majesties laugh.
Then the pair split up for the afternoon. King Philippe pursued a more economic-themed schedule. The King attended a Canadian-Belgian CEO roundtable and participated in the signing of several trade contracts between Belgian and Canadian companies. Meanwhile, Queen Mathilde visited the Hospital for Sick Kids. In the evening the Royal Couple and the Belgian delegation flew to Montréal where the last days of the State Visit took place.
The fourth day of the State Visit thus took place in Montréal, Québec. Their Majesties then visited the Canadian company Sonaco which produces aircraft wings components. The visit was aimed at bringing attention to the close Belgian-Canadian partnership in the air and space industry. The Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne and Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk worked together on board of ISS.
Also, the fourth day of the State Visit included an official programme as Their Majesties met with Philippe Couillard, the Prime Minister of Québec and Michel Doyon, Lieutenant-Governor of Québec. The King and Queen had lunch with both, and King Philippe also gave a speech.
Then it was time for some famous Belgian chocolate. Queen Mathilde visited the Chocolate Academy founded by Barry Callebaut, a Belgian who has a famous chocolate company. The academy is a training centre for professional chefs and students interested in optimising their skills to prepare chocolate products. The Queen was able to taste some Belgian chocolate and also helped to reveal a chocolate Strumpf, a Belgian cartoon character. Afterwards, the Queen continued her tour at the Belgian Gastronomic Fair. Meanwhile, King Philippe attended a seminar on digital technology at the University of Montréal.
In the evening King Philippe and Queen Mathilde hosted a reception for the Belgian community living in Québec.
The final day of the State Visit also took place in Montréal and was, just like the other days, packed with engagements. The focus on the last day was children. The King and Queen met with youngsters who are being trained in circus techniques in a city district that is renovated and dynamised thanks to the circus. Their Majesties continued their day with a visit to a project about sports and music of the Canadians Children’s Foundation.
Then the King and Queen also attended an ice hockey match. The project wants to promote moving and playing sports for children. The King even tried the sport himself, and he scored two goals. They were given Montreal Canadien jerseys for their four children. Montreal is one of the Original Six teams in the National Hockey League and has won several of the prestigious Stanley Cups. Next, the King continued the day with several meetings about promoting trade and investments.
On their final evening, the Royal pair attended a concert of Lara Fabian and Alice on the roof at the Rialto Theater. After the performance, the King and Queen met with the artists personally.
On Saturday, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde flew back home to their four children in Brussels, Belgium. Their Majesties thanked the Canadians as they tweeted: “Heartfelt thanks to our Canadian friends for their great hospitality!”