On Friday British and Belgian Armed Forces personnel marched through central London together during an annual parade and remembrance service to commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of the Belgian Army in the First World War.
Attending the ceremony at the Cenotaph memorial were Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin, Belgian Ambassador to the UK Bruno van der Pluijm and Admiral Michel Hofman, the Belgian Chief of Defence.
Alongside them marched the Band of the Irish Guards, followed by a column of around 250 Belgian soldiers and veterans, and 100 British veterans and cadets, in what has become a strong symbolic display of the fraternity between the UK and Belgian Armed Forces, which have enjoyed close ties since the First World War.
The parade and wreath-laying ceremony have taken place every year since 1934, when King George V of Great Britain was moved by the death of his nephew – Belgium’s King Albert I – and the bravery of the Belgian Armed Forces to institute an annual parade at the Cenotaph in their honour. It always takes place on the Sunday preceding the Belgian National Day.
Belgium is the only non-Commonwealth nation to be afforded this privilege and the only nation permitted to parade its troops in uniform and carrying arms in central London.
A Service of Remembrance was held at the Cenotaph at 11am, before the parade proceeded to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Guards’ Memorial on Horse Guards Parade. The marching detachment then went on to a reception at Wellington Barracks.