King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde landed in Athens on Monday on the first leg of their three-day tour. The Greek tour kicked off with the Belgian royals being greeted by the President and Prime Minister of Greece as the trip aims to improve ties between the two nations.
President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the monarchs to the Presidential Palace of Athens where there was a state dinner.
The royals observed troops at the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Greek President awarded King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde the honorary decoration of the Order of the Redeemer.
This medal is traditionally awarded to Greek citizens who have preserved the interests of Greece during conflict or have accomplished exceptional social services in Greece or abroad.
The medal can also be awarded to distinguished individuals who are not citizens of Greece, like the Belgian monarchs.
The royals were not the only ones to receive medals as the President Sakellaropoulou received Belgium’s highest honour of the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold which is given to heads of state and other notable individuals.
The President’s partner Pavlos Kotsonis was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown which is Belgium’s second highest decoration before the two couples had a private meeting.
The Greek Prime Minister received the monarchs before the King and the PM had a meeting with the Belgian ministerial delegation which occurred without the wives of the King and Prime Minister present.
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During the trip, Queen Mathilde visited the child protection organisation “The Smile of the Child” where the Queen met with the children and received drawings from them.
The organisation Child Focus in Belgium, of which the Queen is Honorary President works with the group in Greece which works towards protecting refugee children.
The royals posted about the trip on Instagram and stated that The Smile of the Child have “four main focus areas: child health care, combating child poverty, protecting children from violence and locating missing children”.
Meanwhile, the King was welcomed by the Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis who delivered a presentation on the issues being faced by the capital and awarded Philippe with a gold medal of the city.
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During their visit to Athens, the royal couple commented on the beauty of the city after their second day focused on the archaeological collaborations between the two nations.
The couple visited Sounio with the Greek Minister of Culture and they said: “The visit offers a beautiful view over the peninsula, the sea routes to Athens, the port of Piraeus and the Temple of Poseidon.”
This state visit is Belgium’s second official trip to Greece, with the first being in 2001 and the last Belgian state visit took place in Luxembourg in the autumn of 2019.