|Embassy of Belgium, London||Embassy of the United Kingdom, Brussels|
Belgium-United Kingdom relations are foreign relations between Belgium and the United Kingdom. Belgium has an embassy in London and 8 honorary consulates (in Belfast, Edinburgh, Gibraltar, Kingston-upon-Hull, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Saint Helier, and Southampton). The United Kingdom has an embassy in Brussels.
Both states shared membership of NATO. And both countries were member states of the European Union, however, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. In addition, both countries' royal families are descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with the British branch being known as the House of Windsor and the Belgian branch as the House of Belgium.
Belgium established its independence in the revolution of 1830. Like the other European Great Powers, Britain was slow to recognise the new state. Even the election of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, former son-in-law of Britain's King George IV and uncle to the future Queen Victoria, as King of the Belgians failed to win diplomatic recognition from London. Belgium's emergence had caused the break-up of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, one of several buffer states established after the end of the Napoleonic Wars as a check against future French expansion, and London feared this newly formed nation would be unable to survive hostile expansion by its neighbours. A British-organised European Congress produced the Treaty of London of 1839, whereby the Great Powers (and The Netherlands) all formally recognised the independence of Belgium, and (at Britain's insistence) guaranteed its neutrality.
At the Berlin Conference (1884), Britain had recognised the Congo Free State as the personal domain of the King of the Belgians. Britain was subsequently to become a centre for opposition to Leopold II's personal rule in the territory through organisations such as the Congo Reform Association. At one point, Britain even demanded that the 14 signatories to the Berlin Conference meet again to discuss the situation. In 1908, Belgium's parliament took control of the Congo, which became a conventional European colony.
The guarantees of neutrality of 1839 failed to prevent the invasion of Belgium by Germany in 1914. It was the final straw for an element of the Liberal Party that needed a moralistic reason to enter the war, beyond the need to prevent the defeat of France. Historian Zara Steiner says of German's invasion:
Around 250,000 Belgian refugees came to the UK during World War I; about 90% returned to Belgium soon after the war ended.
Historically, the south eastern UK and the area that is now Belgium has evidence of trade since the 1st century and wool export from UK to cloth imports in the 10th Century County of Flanders. Flemish bricks were used on work to the Tower of London in 1278. Today as much of 7.8% of Belgium exports are to the UK. with just over 5% of Belgium's imports, over EUR12,000,000 coming from the UK. Belgium is the UK's sixth-largest export market, worth £10,000,000 a year. The UK is Belgium's fourth-largest export market with two-way trade worth in the region of £22,000,000,000 of which £2,000,000,000 is in services. The Golden Bridge Awards were established in 2012 for UK export success in Belgium and recognising the importance of a close by market.
Today, there are roughly 30,000 British people living in Belgium, and 30,000 Belgians living in the UK. In 2014, the UK Government announced £5,000,000 for the restoration of First World War graves in Flanders.