SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Belgium’s royal year sees jubilee celebrations and a look to the future

It was a milestone year for many reasons for Belgium’s royals: King Philippe celebrated his 10th anniversary on the throne, Queen Mathilde celebrated her 50th birthday, and Princess Elisabeth continued her rise on the global stage.

Among these events, it was business as usual in Belgium and we covered many major stories on the site. Let’s review!

Queen Mathilde celebrated her 50th birthday on 20 January, and the Belgian Royal Court released new portraits. She also gave an interview in which she discussed mental health and appeared on commemorative stamps. Of course, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without remembering her wedding day! And here’s a party trick for you: a way to get Queen Mathilde to be the godmother of your child!

Embed from Getty Images

In January, the Belgian royals attended the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI—some of a very small royal contingent at the funeral at all. In February, Queen Mathilde visited Bangladesh on behalf of the United Nations. Their Majesties visited families devastated by earthquakes, and King Albert and Princess Delphine appeared affectionate in public.  

Queen Mathilde and Princess Elisabeth announced a three-day visit to Egypt slated for March. We looked back on the beloved queen who inspired the tour and how she was unafraid of the so-called curse of King Tut’s tomb. When the tour happened, we covered Princess Elisabeth following in Queen Elisabeth’s footsteps.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde undertook a historic state visit to South Africa in March, which resulted in… a skateboarding king? Now we’ve seen everything!

Embed from Getty Images

New photos of King Philippe and Princess Eléonore were released for their birthdays in April, and in May, Queen Mathilde and Prince Emmanuel competed in a race.

In June, King Philippe travelled to the United Kingdom for the Chelsea Pensioners Founder’s Day parade, and later in the month, King Albert was hospitalised with dehydration, which we covered here. We covered his release in July here.

As King Philippe geared up to celebrate 10 years on the throne, we covered aspects of his reign on the site, including his relationship with the church, the jubilee garden party (more coverage here), his installation, and what to call the monarch of the country (King/Queen of the Belgians, not of Belgium!).

Embed from Getty Images

We also looked at the new busts of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the Belgian Senate, new jubilee portraits, how a Brussels museum honoured him, the day he became king, how Queen Mathilde is a great consort, his childhood, a speech he gave thanking Belgians for their “great sense of solidarity” in the first 10 years of his reign, and the tribute he gave to King Albert and King Baudouin.

Embed from Getty Images

Read our retrospective of King Philippe’s first 10 years on the throne here. We covered the sartorial splendour of National Day, which coincides with King Philippe’s 10th anniversary, here.

We also covered a special visit from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in June, which saw the monarchs of both countries celebrating their 10th anniversaries on their respective thrones.

Princess Elisabeth shared that over the summer she’d undergo further military training, which we covered here. We also looked at her role within the royal family and how she’s preparing for her future; and covered a survey that saw many Belgians hoping she takes over sooner rather than later.

Embed from Getty Images

We also covered, in September, her oath as an officer, which cemented her role as heir. In October, she traveled to Copenhagen for Prince Christian’s 18th birthday celebrations, and we covered the historic tiara she sported. She turned 22 at the end of October, which we covered here. She carried out only the third solo engagement of her royal career in December, which we covered here.

Over the summer, the Belgian royals commemorated King Baudouin, the popular and beloved king who passed away in 1993 following complications from heart surgery. There were many tributes to the man who connected with many royal families.

In September, Queen Mathilde traveled to New York City for the UN General Assembly. New photos of Prince Emmanuel were released in October as he turned 18.

Following a terrorist attack in Brussels in mid-October, the royals attended a memorial tribute and we covered how the threat level was being treated. Despite the attacks, a muted state visit from Portugal continued. At the end of the month, it was announced that their Majesties would undertake a State Visit to Germany in December (coverage here).

Embed from Getty Images

In November, King Philippe honoured the war dead; and in December, it was revealed via leaked letter that Princess Delphine was requesting a greater public presence—not the same allowance—as her siblings). The Belgian Royal Family shared their Christmas portrait amidst the fallout of their aunt’s letter.

To close out their royal year, King Philippe released his annual Christmas address, where he spoke of hope for 2024.

Elsewhere, we covered the line of succession to the Belgian throne (spoiler: Princess Elisabeth, then the rest of her siblings) and the jewels in their vault. We also covered the birth of Belgium’s newest royal baby, Princess Alix (her parents are Prince Amadeo and Princess Elisabetta).

What will 2024 bring for the Belgian Royal Family? You can be sure we’ll cover it on Royal Central!

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.