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    King Philippe at 60: a birthday under lockdown

    King Philippe, 60 today, with Princess Eléonore, 12 tomorrow. © Belga

    Today is the 60th birthday of His Majesty Philippe, King of the Belgians, and like anyone else marking an anniversary in these times of confinement, the celebrations will be set in a minor key.

    Under normal circumstances, Philippe and Queen Mathilde would have been in Copenhagen today, to mark the 80th birthday of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, along with a host of other crowned heads. But that event has had to be cancelled.

    In other years, the King and Queen take their children on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella during the Easter holidays. That, too, gave way to the confinement regulation of avoiding making non-essential trips.

    Instead, Philippe will celebrate his 60th at home at the Royal palace in Laeken, just the six of them and the members of their household.

    They are not the only ones to be disappointed. Next month was to have been the occasion of a lavish garden party in Laeken, to which Philippe had invited not only le beau monde, but also 100 citizens of all ages who share his birthday, and who this year will have had to mark a more modest celebration of their own.

    Although no-one can predict exactly where the country will be on the far-distant date of May 16, prudence has seen to it that the event has already been cancelled.

    And tomorrow, another low-key celebration: Eléonore, the youngest daughter of the royal couple, turns 12.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times