Belgian National Day is a public holiday celebrated on 21 July each year. In 1830, Belgium gained political independence and regained cultural independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Up until then, the Belgian area was known as the Southern Netherlands and had been governed by other countries including Spain and France.
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The Belgian Revolution that occurred from 25 August 1830 was the key catalyst to the independence of Belgium. The revolutionaries destroyed industry buildings and looted shops. Many army recruits deserted, which left the military powerless to bring control.
King William I of the Netherlands sought help from other nations. Five nations met in London at what is now known as the London Conference of 1830 and agreed to Belgium becoming its own power. The Dutch refused to accept this decision and it took nearly a decade of unrest before they finally did.
On 21 July 1831, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha swore allegiance to the newly approved Belgian Constitution and became King Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians. His family line is still on the Belgian throne although they renamed after the First World War to the name ‘of Belgium’ in whichever language is being used: van België, de Belgique, or von Belgien.
Belgian National Day is a full public holiday. In Brussels, as well as other locations, there are military parades, air force aerial demonstrations, street festivities, expos and fireworks, and the king inspects the Belgian Army parading past the palace. It is a day of national pride and celebration of the independence of a strong people.
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