The annual Belgium Parade is principally held on the Saturday or Sunday preceding the Belgian National Day in Remembrance of the King-Soldier and men who fought alongside their British comrades in World War I.
This ceremony has established a long history, but the ties between Great Britain and Belgium go back much further in time.
King George V was moved by the death of King Albert, Colonel-in-Chief of the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guard of the Belgians on 17 February 1934, in a climbing accident and therefore decided to honour King Albert and all the Belgian War veterans by allowing an annual parade of his troops in uniform and carrying arms at the Cenotaph, Whitehall; London’s memorial to the fallen.
This is a unique privilege which no other country ever received. The Belgians are joined by many British Forces’ organisations who thereby guarantee a lasting memory of this exclusive connection with Belgium.
The United Kingdom was closely involved in setting up the Belgian State. After the 1830 Revolution, the five Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria and Russia) held a series of conferences to decide the country’s future. Ultimately they decided, with the Treaty of London signed in 1839, to grant independence on condition it observed strict neutrality, forever.
Thus Great Britain guaranteed both the independence of Belgium and our neutrality stressing a crucial aspect of British Strategy, as Antwerp and Oostende were said to be ‘pistols’ aimed at the heart of Great Britain.
It is of upmost importance to keep the memory of war alive in the hearts of all so that the next generation can keep alive the twin values of peace and security.