In July 2019, King Philippe made changes to the royal family’s coat of arms and adapted it to reflect historical and judicial evolutions.
By revamping the Belgian royal family’s coat of arms in a number of ways, the Head of State is clearly demonstrating his desire to show that, sometimes, outmoded traditions must make way for change.
From now on, the formerly monolingual French national motto of L’Union Fait la Force (‘Unity Makes Strength’) will be flanked by the Dutch and German variants, these being Eendracht Maakt Macht and Einigkeit Macht Stark respectively. The gesture is in keeping with what King Philippe had said in his address from the throne after taking the oath in 2013 – namely that he wanted to be King of all Belgians and of the whole federation.
On 21 July (the Belgian National Day) 1831, a German prince took the parliamentary oath in Brussels as Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the first King of the Belgians. After the First World War, King Albert I had the shield representing the German state of Saxony removed, owing to the German war atrocities. From then on, the family referred to itself as ‘of Belgium’. But 100 years later, relations with old foes are at their best and Belgium sits alongside Germany in all manner of institutions, such as the European Union and NATO. The shield has therefore made a return to the coat of arms, now that family origins can once again be referred to without shame.
Other members of the royal family will also receive their own coat of arms, including Crown Princess Elisabeth, the first female heir to the throne.