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Belgian royals celebrate King’s Day

16th November 2009, Comments0 comments

15 November is a special day for the Belgian Royal family.

Since 1866 the day has been marked by celebrations in honour of the Belgian monarch. 15 November is the feast of Saint Leopold in the German liturgical calendar, while it is the feast of Saint Albert in the Roman Catholic calendar.

Belgium’s first two kings and the country’s fourth King were called Leopold. The third King of the Belgians was called Albert as is the current king.

Both Karel Count of Flanders, who took over as Regent at the end of the German occupation in 1944, and the late King Boudewijn kept up the tradition of royal celebrations on 15 November.

Initially, it was called 'Day of the Dynasty' or 'Feast of the Dynasty'. However, an official circular issued in 1953 decreed that the correct name for the festivities is 'King’s Day'.

Although 15 November is a holiday for civil servants, it isn’t an official public holiday. 

King doesn’t celebrate

The celebrations got underway with a te deum at Brussels cathedral.

All of the Royal Family with the exception of the King and Queen attend the service.

The King doesn’t attend as protocol decrees that it would be inappropriate for him to honour himself.

Princess Claire was also absent from this year’s te deum, although it is not clear why she failed to attend.

Since 2001, the religious service has been followed by an official reception in the Federal Parliament.

15 November and the birthday of the current King Albert II on 8 April are the two days in the year on which the King honours worthy citizens by presenting them with the medal of the Order of Leopold.

German language community celebrates

15 November is also the annual day of celebration for Belgium’s 70,000-strong German language community.

Belgium’s German speakers live in nine municipalities in the province east of Liège .
The area, along with the French-speaking town of Malmedy, was transferred from Germany to Belgium under the Treaty of Versailles.

The German language community has its own 25-seat parliament.

The Government of the German language community is made up of a Prime Minister and three ministers and is responsible for its own education, health, social affairs, the media, culture and scientific research policy.

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