It’s a State Visit with a difference. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians are making a three day trip to Luxembourg. And while their agenda includes all the usual State Visit attributes, including engagements linked to stronger economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries, this is also a family affair. For host, Grand Duke Henri, is the Belgian king’s first cousin, too. Here’s Royal Central’s look at day one of this special State Visit, in pictures.
King and Queen of the Rails[getty src=”1181164678″ width=”594″ height=”394″ tld=”co.uk”]
It was the day they caught the train. The King and Queen of the Belgians put their environmental hearts on their sleeves by hopping on board an express from Brussels to begin their latest State Visit.[getty src=”1181219983″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
There’s a regular train service between the two countries and Philippe and Mathilde enjoyed the three hour trip before arriving in Luxembourg City for an official welcome at the station.
Rain Soaked Royals[getty src=”1181219746″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
Grand Duke Henri welcomed his cousins to the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg as the State Visit got under way. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa is recovering from a successful knee operation so wasn’t able to take part in the planned engagements. However, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde popped in to see her in the middle of their duties.[getty src=”1181220960″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
The first full afternoon in Luxembourg saw the Belgian royals pay their respects at the National Monument of Solidarity which commemorates all those who lost their lives in World War Two, fighting to free the country from Nazi occupation. They were accompanied by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel.[getty src=”1181246043″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
Philippe and Mathilde also enjoyed a tour of some of the highlights of Luxembourg City, taking a stroll with Grand Duke Henri as the State Visit continued. The royal party then made its way to the Hotel de Ville as the day engagements came to an end.[getty src=”1181251057″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
All the Sparkle of a State Banquet
You can’t keep a good Grand Duchess down for too long and as the first day of the Belgian State Visit to Luxembourg came to an end, Maria Teresa surprised everyone by turning up to the showpiece State Banquet in honour of her husband’s cousin.[getty src=”1181265127″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
The Grand Duke and Duchess were joined by Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie as the banquet got under way.[getty src=”1181280221″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
During his speech, King Philippe paid a touching tribute to Henri’s father, Grand Duke Jean, who died earlier this year. Philippe spoke warmly of the love felt for Jean and had high words of praise for his devotion to his country, underlining how much he had loved Luxembourg by reflecting on his time as a soldier fighting to free the nation from occupation in World War Two.[getty src=”1181280195″ width=”594″ height=”396″ tld=”co.uk”]
The family aspect of this State Visit was further highlighted as Philippe honoured his hosts, calling them first ”Highnesses” then ”dear Henri, dear Maria Teresa”. The Belgian State Visit to Luxembourg continues until October 17th 2019.