Queen Mathilde was wearing a yellow dress for the occasion, a reference to the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the yellow leader's jersey in the Tour de France. Eddy Merckx , who grew up in neighbouring Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his impressive win in 1969. The "Cannibal" won all classifications 50 years ago: the GC, the points, king of the mountains, the team rankings (with his team mates of Faema) and the combiné.
Merckx was at the palace with his wife, but also with his children Axel and Sabrina, and their partners and children. His team mates from 1969 were there, as was Tour de France supremo Christian Prudhomme.
The king sent me a personal letter to invite me here. It touched me.
"I am proud that my friends and family were received by the king. They will be proud as well and it will be a nice memory. It's always a big honour to be received. The king sent me a personal invitation letter. That moves me."
The king talked with Merckx about the Tour of 1969. "The king was 9 years old at the time, and followed the Tour de France on the radio." The start of the 106th edition of the Tour centres on Eddy Merckx: "It's my weekend, but also that of Brussels. I hope that everyone will enjoy it."