(L-R) Queen Mathilde of Belgium; Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg; King Philippe of Belgium; Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg; Credit: © SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

At the invitation of the King and Queen of the Belgians, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg are paying a state visit to Belgium from Tuesday 16 to Thursday 18 April 2024.

As reported by the government's Information and Press Service (SIP), Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Xavier Bettel, the Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy and Tourism, Lex Delles, and the Minister of Defence, Minister for Mobility and Public Works and Minister for Gender Equality and Diversity, Yuriko Backes, are accompanying the Grand Ducal couple on this three-day state visit. Prime Minister Luc Frieden and the Minister of Finance, Gilles Roth, will be present at different times.

As part of this state visit, an economic delegation comprising representatives of more than 125 companies active in the sectors of the circular economy, renewable energy, health technologies, finance, tourism, (cyber-)security, defence and space cooperation will also accompany the Grand Ducal couple.

This marks the second state visit of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg to Belgium. According to the Luxembourg government, this reflects the "excellent" relations between these two neighbours. The state visit is therefore not only an opportunity to consolidate long-existing partnerships, but also to highlight new sectors of cooperation and to stimulate progress and innovation with the aim of ensuring sustainable growth that respects the environment.

Day 1

The official welcome ceremony took place on Place des Palais in Brussels where the Grand Ducal couple were welcomed by the Belgian monarchs. The review of the troops and the playing of the national anthems were followed by the presentation of the delegations and an exchange of gifts at the royal palace.

Other activities on Tuesday included a visit to the Belgian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where Grand Duke Henri laid a wreath of flowers on the grave and rekindled the eternal flame, followed by a visit to the Palais de la Nation, seat of the Belgian Federal Parliament. Later in the afternoon, Minister Bettel was set to engage in political talks with his Belgian counterpart, Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib.

A state banquet, held by the King and Queen of the Belgians in honour of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg at the Palace of Laeken, in the presence of Prime Minister Luc Frieden and his wife, Minister Bettel and his husband, as well as Ministers Delles, Backes and Roth, will close this first day of the state visit.

Day 2

The second day will begin with breakfast at Egmont Palace in Brussels, bringing together leaders in financial services, chaired by Minister Roth and his Belgian counterpart, Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem. The Grand Duke and the King of the Belgians will have the opportunity to join them to discuss the Belgian and Luxembourg perspectives in terms of financing the economy.

Also at Egmont Palace, Grand Duke Henri and King Philippe will attend the opening of an Economic Forum dedicated to "Thriving Connections: Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Relations". Among the speakers are Ministers Bettel and Delles, as well as the President of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Fernand Ernster. The heads of state will then meet various Belgian and Luxembourg business leaders who will present their cooperation projects. For their part, the Grand Duchess and the Queen of the Belgians will visit an exhibition dedicated to 100 years of surrealism in Belgium at the Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar).

Later that morning, the Grand Ducal couple and the Belgian monarchs, accompanied by the ministerial delegation, will travel to Ghent, in the province of East Flanders, where they will be welcomed by Governor Carina Van Cauter and Mayor Mathias De Clerq. The delegation will first travel to the North Sea Port visitor centre for a presentation by General Director Daan Schalck. Next up is a visit to Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC) Engines, in the presence of General Director Tim Berckmoes. A thematic lunch is planned at the Maison Provinciale of Ghent, followed by a visit to Saint Bavo's Cathedral.

The state visit will continue in Aalst where the Grand Duke will meet the management of Jan De Nul Group, in the presence of Ministers Bettel, Delles and Backes. The second day will end with a concert by the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra at the old Maison de la Radio in Brussels, followed by a cocktail dinner.

Day 3

On Thursday morning, the Grand Duke and the King of the Belgians will visit the Melsbroek Air Base, where the A400M binational unit integrated into the 15th Air Transport Wing of the Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium is stationed. They will have the opportunity to attend several presentations, as well as to meet three Luxembourgish students currently undertaking Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance training in Belgium. The visit to Melsbroeck also includes the exploration of an A400M flight simulator by the Grand Duke and the King of the Belgians.

For his part, Economy Minister Lex Delles will have a bilateral meeting in Liège with Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State for Recovery and Strategic Investment.

The Grand Duke and the King of the Belgians will move on to Liège where they will be welcomed by Governor Hervé Jamar and Mayor Willy Demeyer. They will notably visit the University of Liège to attend the opening of a seminar on security and defence challenges in and from space. Ministers Bettel, Delles and Backes, as well as their respective Belgian counterparts, Thomas Dermine and Ludivine Dedonder, will also attend.

For their part, the Grand Duchess and the Queen of the Belgians will visit the Child Focus in Brussels before also going to Liège. They will be received by the organisation's President, Baron François Cornelis, as well as by General Director Heidi De Pauw. The visit will end with a thematic lunch at the Palace of the Prince-Bishops in Liège, with a focus on cooperation and cross-border co-development between Belgium and Luxembourg.

After a final meeting with the people of Liège, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess will take leave of the King and Queen of the Belgians on Place Saint-Lambert before returning to Luxembourg.