Royals have dinner with government leaders

King Albert, Queen Paola, Crown Prince Filip and Princess Mathilde had lunch with the members of the federal government on Monday morning. The last federal government under King Albert II was only formed after a difficult process of almost endless negotiations. Many considered today's lunch as an opportunity to turn that page.

The different ministers gave the king a warm greeting upon arrival, expressing their appreciation for his role as mediator. It took a year and a half to get the Di Rupo administration on the rails, a world record to form a coalition government. This was a big frustration for King Albert, who could hardly hide his disappointment and frustration during his 2011 nationwide 21 July address.

Several deputy Prime Ministers and ministers expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the crucial role that he played during the formation. Deputy PM Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) was responsible for the falling of the previous government and called today's meeting "a historical moment."  "When we finally had a government, I could see that it was a big relief to him. I expect to see the same today", he told reporters before entering the Royal Palace.

Deputy PM Joëlle Milquet (Francophone Christian democrat) said that the lunch was "a good opportunity to be together in a more relaxed atmosphere than when the king announced his abdication." 

The king and queen received a bunch of flowers (small photo). The king, who is a passionate photographer, also received a new lens (photo below). Crown Prince Filip and Mathilde also were also invited. They will receive the government members themselves next Monday, one day after 21 July.