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A quiet leadership restores faith in the monarchy: 10 years of King Philippe

King Philippe is about to celebrate his tenth anniversary on the throne of Belgium, with many successes behind him that surprised his past detractors. 

Many considered him too quiet and shy to be an effective leader, and when King Albert II announced his decision to abdicate, many were sceptical of Philippe’s abilities to carry the duties of a head of state on his shoulders. 

However, ten years later, his detractors can look back and see how much the country and the monarchic institution needed a quiet leader, someone to do the job with not much fanfare but with determination all the same. 

He maintained leadership in his family even in its most difficult time: with him not being monarch anymore, King Albert opened himself to the full extent of the law, which, after many decades, prompted an official recognition of a second daughter. It was then that Princess Delphine was given an official title and recognition as the daughter of a former sovereign. 

King Philippe only released positive statements, and although he didn’t publicise it, he held several meetings with his half-sister. Because of his decisions, Princess Delphine was asked to attend family events, like the annual church service to commemorate deceased members of the Royal Family or the celebrations for National Day. 

On the institutional front, King Philippe was at the helm of several political crises, including six government formations, the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental disasters. 

He welcomed political leaders at the Royal Palace for round after round of discussions to ensure the formation of functioning governments. 

He visited hospitals, vaccination centres, nursing homes, temporary healthcare facilities, and aid distribution centres while also talking on the phone with as many people in isolation as possible. 

The King was always among the first on the scenes, whether after the catastrophic floods of 2021 or after a car accident that took the lives of seven people. 

All of this was done with the support of his family: Queen Mathilde, first of all, but his children as well. Princess Elisabeth, in particular, has become one of her father’s best assets over the past few years. 

The result is that the Belgian monarchy has seen a sharp increase in support over the past few years, with many people expressing their appreciation for the stability the institution represents and their recognition of the efforts that King Philippe has made to transition the monarchy into modern-day society. 

Ten years later, then, Belgian society can breathe easy, knowing that the country is in the hands of a King who, although quiet and shy, can exert his leadership in a way that is maybe not conventional but has demonstrated its effectiveness nonetheless. 

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