Full-blown parade returns on Belgian National Day after two-year hiatus
The traditional military and civilian parade for Belgium's National Day took place on Thursday in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels, under the approving eye of the royal family. King Philippe and queen Mathilde were accompanied by their children. Prince Laurent and his wife, princess Claire, and princesses Astrid and Delphine, with their respective spouses, were also present.
Due to bad weather, the army's fighter planes did not spread the national colours to open the parade as planned. Four F-16s flew over Brussels a little later, without a colour trail, after the Defence helicopters had passed.
Under a grey sky, but without heavy rainfall, many civilians had gathered around the Warande Park to watch the military marching bands, the cadets, various branches of the armed forces and then the civilian services parade for about an hour and a half from 4 p.m. onwards. After two years of Covid-19 containment measures, the parade was back to normal.
One of the showpieces presented to the public was a French self-propelled artillery gun: a "CAESAR" (CAmion Equipé d'un Système d'ARtillerie), which Belgium does not yet have but of which it has ordered several.
For the first time, the army and the police gave a demonstration in real time, simulating an intervention at the Royal Palace with specialists coming in from the air and from the Place des Palais/Paleizenplein (Palace Square). Special police units were dropped from a helicopter onto the palace and then rappelled down along the facade.
Belgian "heroes", including people who showed extraordinary solidarity after last summer's devastating floods in Wallonia, were invited to take places in the front row for the parade. They were allowed to follow the parade not far from the stands where politicians, ambassadors and the royal family were seated.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK
© BELGA VIDEO BRUNO FAHY