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Britain's sovereign was on fine form as she met her fellow monarch King Albert at his home, Laeken Castle just outside Brussels city centre
Photo: AFP
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The relaxed atmosphere was also very much in evidence as the Queen chatted with Albert's wife Paola
Photo: AFP

Paola's daughter-in-law Mathilde, meanwhile, raised a laugh from Prince Philip
Photo: Rex

British royals get a warm welcome in Brussels

13 JULY 2007

With smiles all round and plenty of laughter, the Queen and Prince Philip's official tour of Belgium had many of the elements of a highly anticipated trip to catch up with old family friends. Britain's royal matriarch conversed easily with the country's Queen Paola, while Princess Mathilde, one of the generation of popular younger royals, raised a chortle from the Duke of Edinburgh.

Belgian monarch Albert, meanwhile, had gone to great lengths to welcome his British counterparts to lunch in Laeken Castle - his official abode - despite using crutches for the occasion as he is still recovering from a hip replacement operation.

But while ties between the two European royal houses were renewed, this week's visit had a sombre purpose involving their countries' shared history as well. The VIP party had come to commemorate the battle of Passchendaele 90 years ago.

So in the afternoon, the Queen made the short journey to Tyne Cot cemetery in West Flanders where she laid a wreath in memory of the World War I heroes before a crowd of onlookers, many of them bearing the Union flag.

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