King Philip of the Belgians and Queen Mathilde on Wednesday visited Italy, the fifth country on their introduction tour. The royal couple was welcomed by President Giorgio Napolitano in the Quirinale, the former papal and royal palace overlooking Rome and the Vatican.
Italian media were conscious of the special links between the Belgian royal family and their country. Italy’s last queen was Belgium born Queen Marie José, sister of King Leopold III. Belgium’s Queen Paola – mother of King Philip – is Italian and her grandson Prince Amedeo just announced his engagement to an Italian, Lili Rosbosch. And if that wasn’t enough: Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who accompanied the King and Queen is a son of Italian immigrants, the only of 7 siblings born in Belgium and not in Italy.
President Napolitano, Europe’s eldest head of state and the third oldest in the world, hosted a luncheon at the Palace. The royal visitors than made their way to Palazzo Chigi, the office of Prime Minister Enrico Letta whose government only last week was toppled by his own party. Letta will soon be replaced by his party chairman Matteo Renzi, who earlier this week was asked by President Napolitano to form a new government.
The visit to Rome, which duplicated the introduction visit of the Dutch King and Queen in January, was concluded by a brief meeting with Senate president Pietro Grasso in the Palazzo Giustiniani.
Earlier this week the new royal couple visited Berlin, where they met with President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Last year November King Philip and Queen Mathilde started their tour in The Hague, and since they have also visited Luxembourg and Paris. A visit to London is scheduled for 13 March. © Royalblog Hans Jacobs