A first highlight certainly was the official reception at the historic Town Hall of Mechelen on Tuesday September 9. During the ceremony a presentation was given by Sir Henry van der Auwera on the historic relationships of “Malta & Mechelen”. Afterwards, presents were being exchanged between the Municipality and Prince Henri Paleologo who graciously offered a facsimile of the original deed of conveyance by which Emperor Charles V (who lived many years in Mechelen) donated the island of Malta to the Hospitaller Order of Saint John, afterwards known as ‘Knights of Malta.
Next came a visit to Brussels, the Belgian and European capital where we did some sightseeing followed by a lunch in the top sphere of the Atomium. This was the main building from the 1958 World Exhibition, celebrating this year, it’s 50th anniversary. The excursion ended with a farewell drink in the “Cercle des Voyageurs” organised by Sir Walter Roggeman.
In Antwerp the world famous Plantin Museum was visited. In this most important print and editing house in the Europe of the XVIth century, we all admired, amongst others, a number of priceless incunabulums. Following this visit there was a superb reception at the so called ‘beautiful floor’ of the impressive Renaissance Town Hall of the city. Presents were exchanged and during the reception that followed we could admire the wonderful market place. Lunch was arranged by Sir Pierre Verhoeven in a typical restaurant with exquisite French cuisine.
Friday September 12 was the day of the Investiture organised in the old Church of the Franciscan friars in Mechelen. The ceremony was followed by a carillon concert of Russian music from the famous clocktower of the Metropolitan Cathedral St.Rombouts, the most important church in Belgium. The culminating event of the day was the impressive Imperial Ball of which the proceeds were destined to charity.
During the farewell diner on the last day of the programme, Jasmine, the niece of Commander Sir Walter Jaspers, stole everyone’s heart by singing a self composed, beautiful anniversary song for Prince Henri.
The delegations of Malta, the USA, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Monaco, Spain and the organising Commanderie of Mechelen, say “au revoir” and till the next Convention.