Far-right leader had “had pleasant and calm conversation” with the King

The leader of the far-right party Vlaams Belang has told journalists that his talks with Belgium’s Head of State King Filip were “pleasant and calm”. The invitation for Tom Van Grieken to go to the Royal Palace for talks was nothing short of historic. It was the first time since 1978 that a Belgian monarch had invited a leader of a Flemish far-right party for talks.  Then the late Karel Dillen declined, now Mr Van Grieken says that “it is the most normal thing in the world” that he as “winner of elections” was invited to the palace by the Head of State.  

 

Since Monday King Filip has held a series of consultative talks with the leaders of all the parties that won seats in the Federal Parliament in Sunday’s election. The talks are designed to help him gage the political temperature before appointing an “Informateur”, who will do the preparatory work before the formation of a new Federal Government can begin.  

Mr Van Grieken arrived at the palace a few minutes late for his 10:45 appointment with King Filip. He didn’t say much as he went through the palace gates. His party Vlaams Belang is critical of the monarchy and in favour of a Flemish republic. Nevertheless, Mr Van Grieken said “As the King is showing respect for us and our voters, I am showing respect by coming here today to listen to him”.   

On leaving the palace Mr Van Grieken respected the rule that decrees that politicians don’t discuss with the press the contents of conversations that they have had with the King. When asked if the King had shown respect towards his party during their conversation Mr Van Grieken said “The invitation was significant enough”.