Belgium is among those handful of European countries with a constitutional, popular and hereditary monarchy, where the King serves as the head of state.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium are currently on a state visit to India. This is the Belgian King’s first state visit to India following his ascension to the throne, after abdication by his father, King Albert II, in July 2013.
The royal visit is intended to further strengthen the historically strong ties between the two countries. Belgium has been pushing for a free trade agreement with India and further negotiations are expected to receive a fillip following the King’s state visit. New business and trade partnerships are expected to be forged.
Suitably, the theme of the royal visit is, “Towards an Innovative Partnership for the 21st Century.” For Belgium, this means going beyond the diamond trade, that dominates trade between the two countries. For India, the state visit is significant as Belgium is the gateway into Europe and the official seat of the EU.
The King is accompanied by a Belgian delegation with CEOs of 90 Belgian companies, rectors of major Belgian universities and a large media contingent.
Around 40 agreements are expected to be signed between Indian businesses and government bodies with the
focus on partnerships relating to climate change and clean tech, sustainable cities, innovations in health care, food processing, infrastructure, and academic tie-ups between Indian and Belgian institutes of higher education.
King Philippe of Belgium
- King Philippe, 57, is the seventh King of the Belgians and the second youngest reigning monarch after King Willem-Alexander of Netherlands, who is only 49.
- Prince Philippe was born on April 15,1960, as the eldest son of Albert II and Queen Paula, during the reign of his uncle, King Baudouin of Belgium. His mother is an Italian aristocrat and descendent of the French Noble house of Lafayette.
- He studied in French and Dutch schools in Brussels and Loppem before going on to study at the Belgian Royal Military Academy. As a military officer, he went on for further studies to the Universities of Oxford and Stanford, for a Master’s degree in political science.
- He was later awarded his fighter pilot’s wings and certificates as a parachutist and a commando. He also received the Grand cordon of the Order of Leopold, which is the highest honorary order of knighthood in Belgium, named after King Leopold I.
- As the Honorary Chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board, later renamed as the Board of the Foreign Trade Agency, Prince Philippe has led more than 60 economic missions.
- Following abdication of the throne by his father, King Albert II, Prince Philippe became the seventh King of Belgium.
- He has four children with his wife Queen Mathilde, including Princess Elisabeth, who will one day become Belgium’s first queen.