King Philippe and Queen Mathilde will undertake a state visit to Italy this spring according to the Royal House.
Accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Prime Ministers of various Belgian regions, Their Majesties will visit Italy from 23-25 March.
The last time King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited Italy was in 2014, following King Philippe’s accession to the throne as the couple toured Europe to meet their fellow heads of state.
Since ascending to the throne, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde have undertaken several state visits, including to the Netherlands, Japan, India, Canada, Portugal, Poland, China, Luxembourg, Denmark, and South Korea.
State visits are a chance for two countries to spotlight economic, social and cultural ties between nations and to promote their causes in the hopes of cultivating new relationships and developments.
Typical features of a state visit include a military salute and laying of a wreath at a war memorial; reviewing a military guard of honour; a state dinner (dress code is usually white tie, though not always); visiting landmarks, Parliament and other government offices; and highlighting specific areas of the country to promote on the world stage.
Gifts are usually exchanged and may include the countries’ highest medals and honours. According to Wikipedia, when paying a state visit to Belgium, it is usually customary for King Philippe to award the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold to a head of state.
A typical state visit to Italy includes meeting governmental officers, inspecting a guard of honour, holding a joint press conference between the heads of state, and a state dinner on the first evening.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde received their invitation to visit Italy from President Sergio Mattarella, and a full schedule of events will be released by the Royal House closer to the date.