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The highlights of the Belgian National Day


The Belgian Royal Family marked Belgium’s National Day on Sunday, and all eyes were directed towards Princess Elisabeth and her uncle, Prince Laurent.

On Sunday, Belgium celebrated its National Day. On the 21st of July, the country commemorates the investiture of King Leopold I of Belgium in 1831, the country’s first monarch. Belgium used to be part of the Netherlands before gaining its independence in 1830.

The Belgian Royal Escort (Photo: Laura Dekkers)

As each year, the Belgian Royal Family was fully present to join in the celebrations. In the morning, King Philippe, Queen Mathilde and their four children: Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriël, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore attended a Te Deum mass at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels. The family arrived by car accompanied by the Belgian Royal Escort, a horse- and motorcycle mounted unit exclusively at the service of the Royal Family.

King Philippe followed by two of his children, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Elisabeth at the Te Deum. (Photo: Laura Dekkers)

Upon arrival, all eyes were immediately directed at the King and Queen’s oldest child, Princess Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant. The nearly 18-year-old Princess has grown to be a beautiful, elegant young lady with a great sense of style. Princess Elisabeth wore a floral dress by Natan, her mother’s favourite designer and wore blue Gianvito Rossi sandals with high heels.

Princess Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant. (Photo: Laura Dekkers)

The Princess has inherited her mother’s spontaneity and is very approachable. After the mass, the Duchess of Brabant shook hands and talked with the public but also with politicians, the media and military staff. Elisabeth also guided her siblings to make sure they were following.

Recently, the Duchess of Brabant has stepped up her public appearances as she joined her mother, Queen Mathilde on her first humanitarian trip to Kenya and attended the funeral of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg earlier this year. The day before the National Day, Elisabeth took a look behind the screens of her father’s National Day address to the nation. It is clear that the preparation of Princess Elisabeth as the future Queen of Belgium has now officially begun.

Queen Mathilde and her children Prince Gabriël and Princess Eléonore at the Te Deum (Photo: Laura Dekkers)

Meanwhile, Princess Astrid and her husband, Prince Lorenz attended the Te Deum mass in Bruges while Prince Laurent showed up at the Te Deum mass in Namur. Each year the various members of the family attend Te Deum mass throughout Belgium while the King and his family stay in Brussels.

(Photo: Laura Dekkers)

In the afternoon, King Philippe inspected the military troops before the start of the traditional military parade in which all components of the army and civil services participated. This year the military parade also included various old American military vehicles to mark 75 years since the liberation of Belgium. The King, Queen and their four children were joined by the King’s sister, Princess Astrid and her husband, Prince Lorenz, as well as the King’s brother, Prince Laurent and his wife, Princess Claire to watch the parade.

While the children of the King and Queen paid attention and seemed interested during the entire military parade, their uncle, Prince Laurent was spotted texting, as well as making phone calls. The Prince also refused to shake hands with the politicians at the parade. His wife, Princess Claire, seemed to lecture the Prince, but he was determined to misbehave to express his dissatisfaction.

The flypast as part of the military parade (Photo: Laura Dekkers)

In the late afternoon, the King and Queen visited the festivities at the park. For the occasion, the park was transformed into a vast outdoor playground for young and old. The pair talked with the organisers and took the time to speak to the public that had gathered to see them.

In the evening, the King, Queen and their four children watched the fireworks just in front of the Royal Palace of Brussels. The fireworks traditionally mark the end of the National Day. It was the first time that the three youngest children of the King and Queen joined in to see the fireworks.

From this week, the Royal Palace of Brussels will be open to visitors until the end of August.

With special thanks to Djara Van Hove for her help with the photos.

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.