Prime Minister Xavier Bettel greets Their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of the Belgians; Credit: © SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, all rights reserved

Their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of the Belgians began their three-day state visit to Luxembourg yesterday.

Accompanying the Belgian royal couple on this occasion are Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Defence, Didier Reynders, President of the Walloon region, Elio di Rupo, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of Flanders, Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (French-speaking community), Pierre-Yves Jeholet, and Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, Oliver Paasch. An important business delegation is also joining the Belgian King and Queen.

Day One: 15 October 2019

Upon arrival at the Luxembourg train station on Tuesday, Their Royal Highnesses the King and Queen of the Belgians were welcomed by His Royal Highness the Grand Duke and Luxembourg's Minister of Family and Integration and the Greater Region, Corinne Cahen. The royal couple then attended an official reception hosted by the Grand Duke at the Grand Ducal Palace, followed by a private lunch with the Hereditary Grand Duke and Grand Duchess. The Belgian monarchs also met with the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Fernand Etgen, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, at the palace. 

The first day also saw King Philippe and Queen Mathilde lay a wreath at the National Monument of Luxembourg Solidarity (Kanounenhiwwel), in the presence of Prime Minister and Minister of State Xavier Bettel, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence François Bausch and Luxembourg Army Chief of Staff General Alain Duschène, as well as flag bearers, members of the World War II Memorial Committee and representatives of patriotic movements and associations. The Belgian royals later attended an academic session at Luxembourg City Hall.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Étienne Schneider offered a luncheon in honour of his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders and the Belgian Minister-Presidents, in the presence of Luxembourg ministers François Bausch, Pierre Gramegna (Finance), Dan Kersch (Sports; Labour, Employment and Social and Solidarity Economy, Corinne Cahen, and Paulette Lenert (Consumer Protection and Humanitarian Action).

A gala dinner held at the Grand Ducal Palace in honour of the King and Queen of the Belgians, in the presence of the Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess closed this first day of the state visit.

Day Two: 16 October 2019

The second day of the state visit will begin at the Diekirch Military Centre, where Defence Minister François Bausch and his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders, along with General Alain Duschène and the commander of the Military Centre, Colonel Yves Kalmes, will welcome the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Following the troop review, the Belgian and Luxembourgish monarchs will place a wreath in front of the memorial plaque in honour of Army personnel killed in action. 

The Belgian and Luxembourg heads of state, along with Didier Reynders, will then visit the satellite control centre of SES at its headquarters at Bezdorf Castle, accompanied by Prime Minister and Minister of Communication and Media, Xavier Bettel, and representatives of SES.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will receive the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duke at Bourglinster Castle, accompanied by Minister-President Oliver Paasch. At the conference centre, Andreas Fickers, Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH), will present the joint project of the virtual exhibition "100 ans Ostbelgien". Xavier Bettel will then welcome the Belgian royal couple and the Grand Duke for a lunch meeting at the castle, where discussions will focus on political, economic and cultural bilateral relations, as well as current affairs in European and international politics.

On the sidelines of the state visit, Minister-President Jan Jambon will give a speech during an academic seminar at the Maison du Savoir at the University of Luxembourg in Esch-Belval. Étiennes Schneider and the university rector, Stéphane Pallage, will also speak on this occasion. Ministers Étienne Schneider and Claude Meisch (Education) will then welcome the Belgian monarchs and the Hereditary Grand Duchess at the Massenoire building, followed by a presentation of the large terrace model of the blast furnaces and the Belval site in general. The royal guests will also participate in three Meet & Greets with rectors, professors and researchers participating in the Medical Innovation Symposium, in the presence of Stéphane Pallage. They will then visit the Learning Centre to listen to presentations on new learning methods and their application.

The rest of the afternoon will be dedicated to the space and audiovisual sectors. The King and Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duke will first be welcomed at the Neumünster Abbey Cultural Centre by Étienne Schneider and Minister-President Elio Di Rupo, where they will attend the conclusions of the space symposium. The official delegation will then visit the Cultural Centre foyer where a presentation of the symposium roundtables will take place. They will also have the opportunity to meet with the speakers as well as representatives of Belgian and Luxembourg space organisations. 

The Belgian royal couple will also take part in a guided tour of the photographic exhibition retracing the highlights of the "Stand Speak Rise Up!" initiative organised by the Grand Duchess on 26 and 27 March 2019 in Luxembourg.

This second day will end with a concert at the Philharmonie Luxembourg.

Day Three: 17 October 2019 

During the morning of the third and last day of the state visit, the King of the Belgians and the Grand Duke will be welcomed at the Chamber of Commerce by Étienne Schneider, President of the Chamber of Commerce Luc Frieden, President of the Federation of Enterprises of Belgium (FEB) Bernard Gilliot and the Managing Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Carlo Thelen. The Belgian and Luxembourgish monarchs will participate in a Meet & Greet with representatives of "Success Stories", before attending a ceremony for the signing of memorandums of understanding between Belgium and Luxembourg.

At the "Technology for the Financial Sector: Belgian-Luxembourg Perspectives & Findings" seminar, Luc Frieden, Luxembourg's Finance for Finance CEO Nicolas Mackel and Flanders Investment & Trade's CEO Claire Tillekaerts will deliver speeches. This will be followed by a panel discussion about attracting and retaining talent in the ICT sector, especially in the field of FinTech.

Then, at the Biodiversum Camille Gira centre in Remerschen, the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duke will attend a seminar entitled "From the linear economy to the circular economy: the future of construction". Luxembourg's Minister of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development Carole Dieschbourg and Belgian Minister-President Rudi Vervoort will deliver speeches on this occasion. At the end of the seminar, some 20 Belgian and Luxembourgish companies active in the sector will present their innovative products and services to the delegation.

The Belgian and Luxembourgish royals will then visit the European Centre in Schengen, where they will be welcomed by Corinne Cahen, as well as the former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and signatory of the Single European Act for Luxembourg, Robert Goebbels, and the Director of the European Centre Schengen, Martina Kneip. On this occasion, they will visit the Pillars of Nations and the open air exhibition on the signing of the Schengen agreements.

A lunch and mobility-related presentations are then planned during a cruise on the Moselle aboard the ship MS Princess Marie-Astrid of Schengen, after which the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duke will visit the Wine Institute in Remich. Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Romain Schneider, Director of the Wine Institute, Robert Ley, and the Mayor of the City of Remich, Jacques Sitz will welcome the Belgian and Luxembourgish monarchs for a presentation of the Luxembourg vineyard followed by a meeting with key players in the sector.

The state visit will conclude with the traditional departure ceremony in front of the Grand Ducal Palace, during which the Grand Duke will say his goodbyes to the King and the Queen of the Belgians.