People of Belgium mark National Holiday

21st July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Today, Belgians are celebrating their National Holiday, commemorating the taking of the oath by the country's first monarch, King Leopold I, on 21 July 1831.

The ceremony occurred almost a year after the Belgian Revolution of 1830, an uprising against Dutch rule.
A large number of events are being staged.

The festivities got underway last night with a street ball in the Marolles, the popular quarter of Brussels in the shadow of the Courts of Justice.

On Tuesday morning King Albert attends the traditional Te Deum mass in Brussels. Princess Astrid is in Antwerp, while Prince Laurent has travelled to Mons.

On Tuesday afternoon there is also a military parade outside the Royal Palace.

The entire area between the Park and the Courts of Justice has been closed to traffic to allow a street party.

In the Park itself - between Parliament and the Palace - a NATO village has been built. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is opening the event.

Brussels museums are open for one euro and the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate can be visited free of charge. The Courts of Justice are also open to visitors.

More police, greater vigilance

Security concerns mean that strict security measures are in place for the parade at 4 p.m.

Earlier this year a man drove into the crowd during a similar event involving the Dutch royal family. Queen Fabiola has repeatedly received death threats (allegedly from a Scot living in Belgium) and there are concerns about a possible copy cat attack.

VRT has been unable to establish whether dowager Queen Fabiola will be wearing a bullet proof vest. Queen Paola will be dressed in black and white.

The festivities conclude with fireworks at 11 p.m. tonight.

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