Belgian Royal Couple Visits Sounion, Travels to Greece — Greek City Times
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium visited the archaeological sites of Sounion and Thorikos in Attica on Tuesday and were welcomed by Greece’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, who recently returned from Australia.
The royal couple also attended two events, one on virtual technologies used by museums and the other on the use of advanced technologies in the preservation of cultural heritage.
During this last event, they were informed, among others, by researchers from the Belgian School of Athens (EBSA) on the archaeological discoveries and research.
The Belgian royal family is on an official visit to Greece from May 2 to 4, at the invitation of the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
The Greek tour kicked off with Belgian royalty being welcomed by the Greek President and Prime Minister as the trip aims to improve ties between the two nations.
Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the monarchs to the presidential palace in Athens where a state dinner was held.
The Royal Family watched the troops during the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Greek President awarded King Philip and Queen Mathilde the honorary decoration of the Order of the Redeemer.
This medal is traditionally awarded to Greek citizens who have safeguarded the interests of Greece during a conflict or have performed outstanding social services in Greece or abroad.
The medal can also be awarded to distinguished personalities who are not Greek citizens, such as Belgian monarchs.
Members of the royal family were not the only ones to receive medals as President Sakellaropoulou received Belgium’s highest honor of the Grand Cordon de l’Ordre de Léopold, awarded to heads of state and other personalities.
The president’s partner, Pavlos Kotsonis, received the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown, 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 Prime Minister had a meeting with the Belgian ministerial delegation which took place without the presence of the King’s wives and the Prime Minister.
During the trip, Queen Mathilde visited the child protection organization “Le Sourire de l’Enfant” where the Queen met the children and received drawings from them.
The Child Focus organization in Belgium, of which the Queen is honorary president, works with the group in Greece which works to protect refugee children.
The Royal Family posted information about the trip on Instagram and said The Smile of the Child had “four main areas of focus: child healthcare, tackling child poverty, protecting children from violence and the location of missing children”.
Meanwhile, the King was greeted by the Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis who gave a presentation on the challenges facing the capital and awarded Philippe a gold medal from the city.
During their visit to Athens, the royal couple commented on the beauty of the city after their second day dedicated to archaeological collaborations between the two nations.
This state visit is Belgium’s second official trip to Greece, the first having taken place in 2001 and the last Belgian state visit to Luxembourg in autumn 2019.
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