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Belgium’s royals lead country’s tributes to Queen Elizabeth II
The death of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II has been marked in Belgium by an outpouring of tributes. They include political leaders, the British community and Belgian royals, who, like many European monarchs, had close family ties to the Queen.
Conveying “their sincere condolences to the Royal Family and to the British people,” King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium made a statement in English shortly after the announcement of the Queen’s death on Thursday evening.
“She was an extraordinary personality. We will always keep fond memories of this great Lady who throughout her reign showed dignity, courage and dedication. Each of our meetings will remain forever etched in our memories. We extend our deepest condolences to the Royal Family and the British people. Rest in peace, Your Majesty, with your beloved husband,” the couple said of the Queen, who made five official visits to Belgium during her 70-year reign and met four of its monarchs.
Many Belgian politicians expressed their sentiments in English, including prime minister Alexander De Croo. "Belgium sends its condolences to the British Royal Family and the British people. May HRH Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace. For more than 70 years, she has been a beacon of stability and dignity for the British people."
EU flags were lowered to half-mast in front of the Berlaymont building in memory of the late Queen. “She witnessed war and reconciliation in Europe and beyond, and deep transformations of our planet and societies. She was a beacon of continuity throughout these changes, never ceasing to display a calmness and dedication that gave strength to many,” commented the European Commission.
Its president Ursula von der Leyen said the Queen’s “empathy and ability to connect with every passing generation, while remaining rooted in the traditions that truly mattered to her, was an example of true leadership.”
British Embassy heads community tributes
The UK ambassador to Belgium Martin Shearman led the British community’s tributes and acknowledged Belgium’s reaction on Twitter. "Deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty The Queen. She will be remembered for her service, values and commitment to enhancing the UK’s ties around the world. My sincere thanks for all of the messages of support we are receiving from across Belgium."
With the crown now passing from the Queen to the former Prince of Wales, the Brussels British Community Association’s president Glenn Vaughan said: “On behalf of the council and membership of the BBCA and the wider British community Belgium, I offer our sincere condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and members of the extended Royal Family at this time of sorrow and sadness.”
The Brussels Anglican church Holy Trinity conveyed gratitude for Queen Elizabeth’s “long and faithful life of service”. Revd Canon John Wilkinson said the church was planning on marking her life and expressing its grief among its community.
Memories evoked of meeting the Queen
The Brussels Branch of the Royal British Legion relies on loyal volunteers, including Andrée Ferrant. She recalls fondly two occasions when she met Queen Elizabeth II in her role as social secretary for the British ambassador in Belgium.
“My main task was to organise the entertainment programme of the ambassador and his wife. During the 20 years of service, I had the privilege to meet Queen Elizabeth at two occasions. I admired the Queen for her constant smile, genuine kindness and great energy and devotion to the people of her country.”
When she retired in 2009, Ferrant joined the local branch of the RBL, becoming its honorary secretary. “Elizabeth II was patron of this well-known charity. She was a truly loved monarch, deserving all our respect. I’m so grateful to have known such a remarkable and outstanding Lady, whom I always remember with emotion and gratitude.”
The UK Embassy in Belgium has opened a condolence book at its residence at 17 Rue Ducale, Brussels. It’s open from 9 September, between 9.00-18.00, this weekend and every working day during the 10-day official period of mourning. It’s also possible to send a message of condolence online via The Royal Family website.
Photos: Inauguration Flanders Field Memorial Garden, London 2014, Queen Elizabeth II and King Philippe © Belga/Eric Lalmand; Royal visit to Belgium 1966, Prince Albert of Belgium, Prince Philip, Baudouin of Belgium, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Fabiola of Belgium and Princess Paola, British residence Brussels © Belga/Photo archives; European Commission; British Embassy in Belgium