Why is 21 July Belgium's National Day?

Mon 21/07/2014 - 15:12 Belgium gained independence in 1830. But why exactly is 21 July our National Holiday? The reason is not linked to 1830, as many think, but to 1831.

In 1830, Belgium had broken away from the Netherlands.

In February 1831, the National Congress adopted a constitution which, at that time, was considered as progressive.

Expats join in and dance at the Bal National

21/7/14 - The Vossen Square, high up in the City of Brussels, was the place to be last night as foreign nationals joined Belgians in celebrating on the eve of the national holiday. There was a buzz in the crowd as everybody expected King Filip and Queen Mathilde to attend too. The revellers were not disappointed and saw how king Filip enjoyed a small beer!

It was on 21 July 1831 that Leopold of Saxe-Coburg swore allegiance to the Belgian constitution in the Sint Jacobs Church on the Coudenberg in Central Brussels.

Leopold I (photo above) thus became the first king of the Belgians. The great powers at that time recognised the Belgian independence.

Many people, including Belgium's leading politicians, can't remember exactly why 21 July is our National Day.

In 2007, (now former) Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal) was only able to answer after several minutes of deep reflection. However, he did better than his successor Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat) and Walloon PM Rudy Demotte (Francophone socialist), who could not answer.