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'Belgian Parade' in London: a special privilege since 1934

On Saturday, Belgium's King Filip and Queen Mathilde attended the so-called 'Belgian Parade' in the streets of London to remember the Belgian soldiers who perished in both World Wars. 

The parade at the Cenotaph near Whitehall is an annual tradition that goes back tot 1934. It takes place the Saturday before the Belgian national day on 21 July. The Belgian soldiers are allowed to march through the London streets wearing their arms, a privilege that was granted in 1934, the year when King Albert I died in a climbing accident in Marche-les-Dames.

Albert I of the Belgians had gained popularity for assisting his troops and boosting their morale in the trenches during the First World War, an effort that earned him the nickname 'king-soldier'. 

After his unexpected death, which sent a shock wave through the country, Britain's King George V seized the opportunity to honour his relative, allowing an annual parade in the streets of London and granting the Belgian military the special privilege of wearing arms. Belgium is the only non-Commonwealth country to have this honour.