Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online

Britain isn’t the only country enjoying a welcome spell of balmy weather at the moment. In Belgium, too, the sun has come out after one of the most miserable springs on record, and people spent the weekend picking up some much-needed rays in gardens, parks and on beaches.

Among them was the former Prime Minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, who was enjoying a lunchtime barbecue at his home in Vilvoorde on Sunday.

What had slipped his mind, however, was an appointment at a television studio to discuss the upcoming abdication of King Albert II. Half an hour before the show was due to air, the presenter sent the ex-premier a text message to enquire about his whereabouts. Rather than cancelling his appearance, the 72-year-old raced over to the studios of the VTM and arrived just in time.

What he did not have time to do, however, was change out of his causal weekend attire, so he conducted the interview in a salmon shirt, checked Bermuda shorts, sandals and a healthy glow. After a few chuckles with the presenter – who was dressed in a more traditional suit and tie – Mr Dehaene ploughed on with the serious discussion of the monarchy and Belgian politics.

The sartorial sense of the man who was Prime Minister from 1992 to 1997 has since become a hot topic of debate in the Belgian media and on Twitter.

One user remarked, approvingly, that Mr Dehaene had retained some elegance by managing to escape that great fashion crime of the British summer, socks with sandals.