King Philippe and Queen Mathilde enjoy visit to panda zoo with Chinese president and wife
01 APRIL 2014King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium gave a warm welcome to Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, who were visiting the country as part of their European tour.
One of the highlights of their trip abroad was to visit the zoo in Brugelette, east of the country, to see the giant pandas that China had loaned last month to Belgium for a period of 15 years.
As the Belgian royals and their political guests arrived at the Paira Daiza Park zoo, the group started off their visit with an inauguration ceremony for the new panda pavilion.
The group tied ribbons to the "wish tree" and visited giant pandas Xinhui and Hao Hao at the zoo
Dressed in a multi-coloured striped coat, Queen Mathilde lit up the day as she and China's First Lady Peng tied red ribbons onto a blossoming "wish tree".
Peng was then tasked with giving out cuddly toy pandas dressed in national Chinese costume to the children who had gathered for the official visit. The youngsters looked particularly delighted to receive their gifts, beaming at Peng as they inspected their new toys.
The group then went to view the two giant pandas, Xinhui and Hao Hao, who were happily lazing around on the grass, much to their audience's amusement.
China's First Lady gave out cuddly panda toys to the kids
Xi and Peng's state visit to Belgium, which was in the hope of improving relations between the two countries, marked the first time a Chinese president had visited the nation.
Their three-day trip started on Sunday with an official welcoming ceremony at the Royal Palace in Brussels, where Xi and Peng were met by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde. Chinese nationals had flocked to the streets to wave their home flags to the president and his wife, who eagerly smiled and waved back.
The official welcoming ceremony at the Royal Palace
The following evening on Monday, the reigning Belgian monarchs hosted a state dinner at the Royal Castle in Laken-Laeken, Brussels.
Queen Mathilde looked radiant in a sweeping royal blue gown and purple sash, and brought out her stunning diamond tiara for the lavish affair. The group toasted the occasion and later sat down for their formal dinner.
Queen Mathilde at the state dinner held at the Royal Castle
Other engagements during the trip to Belgium included a tour of the MIM museum in Brussels for Queen Mathilde and Peng — where the duo admired a musical demonstration by a Chinese national — and a visit to the Volvo plant in Gent.