King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium have concluded a two-day visit to New York City.
Their Majesties travelled to the Big Apple as Belgium holds the presidency this month for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The King and Queen arrived on 11 February and visited the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the UN where they received a briefing on their UN work and their presidency of the UNSC.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde then went to the 9/11 Memorial where they met New York Police officers and placed a white rose by the name of the sole Belgian victim of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. There were a total of 2977 victims in the attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.
There was a small ceremony, as well, where Their Majesties were accompanied by four Belgian federal police officers who intervened in the 2016 Belgian attacks. The King and Queen had invited them to join them at the memorial. The Royal Palace said it was a “tribute to the dedication and sacrifices of the security and law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism.”
That evening, Philippe and Mathilde attended a concert at The Morgan Library & Museum where Belgian musical talent was able to be put in the spotlight.
The following morning, the King and Queen of the Belgians met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres where they discussed, alongside Belgium’s Foreign Minister, children and armed conflict and Belgium’s mandate at the UNSC.
Later that day, both the King and Queen attended the UNSC on Children and Armed Conflict where His Majesty addressed the council.
King Philippe said, “Today, one in five children around the world suffers the adverse impacts of armed conflict. This figure must not leave us indifferent. For it represents real girls and boys, fleeing fighting, maimed, exploited, killed, sexually abused or recruited by armed groups. It reflects millions of young lives left wounded, in their bodies and in their minds.
“Saving these children demands unflinching political will, joint prevention and remediation efforts, and constant mobilisation of financial and human resources.”
He continued by stressing, “We must help these children to recover and to flourish. We must give them hope, and help them regain confidence in life. By listening to them, by recognizing their suffering, by reintegrating them into society and giving them ongoing support. That is how we will break the cycle of violence and make lasting peace possible.”
He also emphasised that Belgium was fully committed to the cause, “Belgium remains deeply committed to multilateralism and to the United Nations. My country is fully committed, aiming to defend not its own interests, but the universal values that underpin the Charter and that are the foundation of every decent society.”
The King’s full speech, in English, can be read here.
Afterwards, they visited the Rebel Lives exhibition where they saw the situation of child soldiers in Uganda. The Queen was also presented with flowers by a little girl upon arrival at the exhibit.
Their Majesties visit concluded with a trip to Broadway to watch “West Side Story.”
As they were arriving, those in the streets realised the couple were royals with someone exclaiming, “Oh my God. They are royalty!” Belgian journalist Wim Dehandschutter posted a video from New York City of the exchange where someone else says, “I love your candy!”.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde’s visit concluded after their Broadway show.