New Belgian king and queen meet the people of Mons

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Following on from Leuven and Wavre, it was Mons’ turn to host the royal couple. Between 5,000 and 6,000 people, including many school children from the region, gathered early Tuesday afternoon in the Grand Place in Mons to cheer King Philip and Queen Mathilde as they entered the capital of the province of Hainaut.

Arriving at 11 am at the Provincial Palace, they were welcomed by the mayor of the city, Elio Di Rupo, the acting mayor Nicolas Martin and the new governor of the province, Tommy Leclercq, whose investiture ceremony was held last week.

Having signed the province’s visitor’s book, the royal couple visited the Town Hall for a workshop dedicated to Mons Year of Culture 2015, followed by lunch.

They made a brief appearance on the balcony of City Hall before being presented with the Masonic ‘Singe du Grand Grade’, and as tradition obliges, they stroked the monkey’s head. The king and queen then went to meet the people who had waited patiently for several hours on the Grand Place.

Among the public there were veterans, but also many ardent monarchist youngsters from thirty local schools, who screamed out their names and waved small Belgian and Walloon flags distributed by the city.

Philippe and Mathilde, who sported a straw hat for the occasion, seemed to enjoy themselves, shaking hands, kissing children and exchanging a few words here and there.

According to police, no major incidents were reported. Sudpresse said an individual who had shouted “Long live the Republic” as the royal couple passed was arrested.

The next meet-and-greet is next Tuesday in Hasselt before an appointment in Antwerp, set for 27 September.

Photo Belgian couple after swearing in: Michael Thaidigsmann