The truth behind Belgium's National Day

21st July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Belgium's National Day does not commemorate the day where she declared independence from the Netherlands in 1830.

21 June 2008

BELGIUM – Many people, including Belgium's leading politicians, can't remember exactly why 21 July is our National Day.

In 2007, the then Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was only able to answer after several minutes of deep reflection.

However, he did better than the present federal PM Yves Leterme (and Walloon PM Rudy Demotte who did not have the answers to the question.

While Belgium may have gained independence when she broke away from the Netherlands in 1830, the celebration of Belgium’s National Day stems from 1832.

In February 1831, the National Congress adopted a constitution which, at that time, was considered as progressive.

It was on 21 July 1831 that Leopold of Saxe-Coburg swore allegiance to the Belgian constitution in the Sint Jacobs Church on the Coudenberg in Central Brussels. Leopold I thus became the first king of the Belgians.

Like in 2007, this year's National Day will be marked by the political bickering over a state reform and the fact that Belgium's future is uncertain.

People supporting the idea of keeping Belgium together, will seize the opportunity to hang out the Belgian flag, although it is not common among Belgians to have a flag at home.

The Royal House symbolises a unified Belgium. There is the annual king's speech, with King Albert stressing the importance of dialogue and tolerance.

Princess Claire, who's married to Prince Laurent, had a colourful dress made for the National Day. The dress is predominantly white, but there are also elements of black, red and yellow - the colours of the Belgian flag.

Claire will also have a special handbag, in the form of Belgium

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