BELGIAN celebrates its National Day today, July 21. This festival dates back to a law of May 27, 1980, commemorating an event on July 21, 1831 in which Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg swore allegiance to the new Belgian constitution, thus becoming the nation’s first monarch. The king’s vow marked the start of the independent state of Belgium under a constitutional monarchy and parliament.
Originally, the National Day of Belgium was celebrated on September 27, commemorating of the Dutch military’s final withdrawal from Brussels after several days of fighting in the mid-September. In 1890, the date of the festival was changed to July 21 to commemorate Leopold I’s accession to the throne. In 1991, September 27 was selected as the annual observance of the French Community of Belgium.
The festival typically starts with a Catholic Te Deum service in the Cathedral of Brussels attended by the King and other dignitaries. In the afternoon, the Belgian Army and police are reviewed by the King as they parade past the Royal Palace and around the Parc de Bruxelles. There is a flypast by the airforce. The military, civil defense, and emergency services and other government departments have stalls in the nearby Place Poleart, Rue de la Regence, Place Royale, and surroundings which explain their roles to the public.
Many notable buildings in Brussels that are usually closed are opened to the public on National Day. A variety of entertainment is presented in several venues around the city, particularly in the city center. In the evening, there are fireworks in the Parc de Bruxelles. Smaller events occur in towns and cities across Belgium and in Belgian émigré communities abroad.
Connections between Belgium and the Philippines can be traced back to the Colonial era during the reign of Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold II who had just ascended the Belgium throne in 1865 asked Queen Isabella II of Spain to cede the Philippines, Spain’s sole colony in the Far East. Formal diplomatic relations between Belgium and the Philippines were established on July 4, 1946.
During the visit of Belgian State Secretary Reginald Moreels to the Philippines in September, 1995, he decided to designate the Philippines as a partner country, receiving Belgian development assistance. Since 1995, Belgium has given the Philippines more than 45 million euros in grants and loans as economic and social development aid to the country.
We send our felicitations to our partner-country, headed by its Prime Minister Charles Michael on the occasion of its National Day.