Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, also known as the Duchess of Brabant as the heir apparent to the throne, has been in military training for the past couple of weeks in Elsenborn.
She joined 169 other first-year students to begin training on 31 August at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels. The first day began at 9 am sharp and was intended as an introduction day. The Duchess of Brabant and her fellow students left for their military initiation phase at Camp Elsenborn on 2 September and will undergo a four-week military initiation phase before the students start their classes in military and social sciences.
The cadets wake up at 5:45 every morning and undergo a rigorous training that includes drills, how to handle weapons and how to camouflage themselves.
Part one of the course ends next Friday; then, those who graduate receive their blue caps saying they can begin their military training. The ceremony will take place in front of their parents.
The basic officer training is organised slightly different this year due to COVID-19. Instead of the shared dormitories that are traditionally used, the students will all stay in an individual room. In classes, the students will have permanent seats and between the different students, plexi screens have been installed. During mealtime, the students will sit in small permanent groups. Nevertheless, the Royal Military Academy has tried to organise as many classes as possible in real life.
This week, the Royal Palace released an array of photographs of the 18-year-old royal at the military academy. All of the photos were taken by Royal Palace photographer, Bas Bogaerts, on 9 and 10 September.
The future monarch is treated no differently than anyone else. She lines up for food alongside her fellow cadets and helps clean the halls. A supervisor said to VRT: “We are honoured to have her with us, but we just treat her like any other student.”
Elisabeth is in a Dutch-speaking group and uses the surname ‘van België’ during her training. She is said to enjoy the long-distance running and works hard at each of the tasks she handed with.
“She is addressed by her family name. That is ‘van België’ because she is in a Dutch-speaking person. Just like we address all students with their family name. Her fellow students also integrated her very well. I don’t think anyone realises every day that there is a princess in their platoon,” the supervisor added.
(All photos: ©️Royal Palace, Belgium. Photographer: Bas Bogaerts)
Additional reporting by Europe Correspondent, Laura Dekkers