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 former Belgian 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 former 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 casual weekend attire, and 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 – he ploughed on with the serious discussion of the monarchy and Belgian politics.

The sartorial sense of the 1992-1997 prime minister has since become a hot topic of debate in the Belgian media and on Twitter, with one user remarking approvingly that Mr Dehaene retained some elegance by managing to escape that great fashion crime of the British summer, socks with sandals.