Traditionally, the royal family begins the festivities on July 21 with Te Deum in Saint Gudula’s Cathedral in Brussels. But what one looks forward to most is the civil and military parade on the Place des Palais. It starts on Thursday at 4pm. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz, Prince Laurent, Princess Claire, Princess Delphine and her husband James O’Hare are expected to attend.
Every year on July 21, our country’s security and emergency services, such as the army, police, fire brigade or civil defense, are honored. This year, the Directorate for Special Units (DSU) is in the spotlight due to their 50th anniversary. In addition, fifty Belgians who make a big difference with small deeds are also present at this ceremony.
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Thursday starts with the Navy’s Royal Chapel. This is followed by the veterans, Royal Netherlands Navy Cadet Corps, Air Cadets, the Belgian Defense Cadets and junior commands. Then Major General Pierre Gérard, head of the Land Component, will show up. He is accompanied by 13 motorcycles from the Military Police.
16.17 F-16 aircraft with the national tricolor air parade open over the Royal Palace in Brussels. This is followed by the A109 and NH90 helicopters, the SF260 training aircraft, a French Xingu and Belgian A400M and Falcon7X transport aircraft. It will be completed with a tank-transport MRTT-F16 combination. The planes will depart from different air bases to fly over Brussels at exactly the right time.
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After the air parade, it’s the military parade’s turn on foot. The Royal Air Force Music Chapel opens. Then there are the various departments of the Royal Military Academy and the Royal School for Non-Commissioned Officers. Subsequently, departments from, among others, Eurocorps, Landkomponenten, Marinekomponenten, Luftkomponenten and Medicinsk Komponent parade across Palais Square.
They are followed by the motorized vehicles. Among others, DOVO and the Special Operations Regiment sent a few vehicles off.
The presence of a Caesar is also striking this year. This is a French system of heavy artillery, of which our country already has nine, but wants to increase that capacity to 28. It is a truck equipped with a long-range artillery. French President Macron announced in mid-June that France would deliver six more Caesars to the Ukrainian army. Twelve had already been delivered at the beginning of the conflict.
Another French vehicle is also taking part in the military parade on Thursday. It is a Griffon, an armored vehicle that Belgium has ordered several dozen as part of a partnership with France.
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A dynamic demonstration will also be staged at the end of the parade. A first for our country. There will be Piranhas, eight-wheeled armored vehicles with a cannon, and special forces will also be dropped from a police and Tiger helicopter.
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Then it’s the citizens’ procession’s turn. Departments from the Police Academy parade, among other things, but also fire brigade cadets and the youth fire brigade participate in the parade. Numerous vehicles from the integrated police will appear under the motorized part, but also vehicles from the customs and tax administration and civil security will be reviewed. Vehicles from B-Fast, FPS Public Health and the Red Cross close the parade.