The busts of Belgium’s first royal couple, King Leopold I and his second wife, Queen Louise-Marie, were sculpted by Guillaume Geefs (1805-1883) and are prominently displayed in the hemicycle.

On 4 June 1831, the National Congress (the predecessor of parliament) elected a ‘King of the Belgians’. Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, widower of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, won with 152 of the 196 votes.

In Belgium, the King must take the oath before the ‘United Chambers’ (the House of Representatives and the Senate sitting together) in their capacity as representatives of the Belgian people. The text of the oath reads: ‘I swear that I will observe the Constitution and laws of the Belgian people, preserve the country’s independence and protect its territorial integrity.’

King Leopold I was the first to take the oath, on Place Royale, in front of the Church of St. James on Coudenberg, on 21 July 1831. Oaths were subsequently taken in the hemicycle of the House of Representatives, which has more space than the Senate for receiving senators and members of parliament in United Chambers.