Belgium’s future queen, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant was invested with the Order of Leopold today during her 18th birthday celebrations at the Royal Palace in Brussels by her father, King Philippe. The Order of Leopold is the oldest and highest order in Belgium with the monarch serving as the Grand Master.
The King told her, “The Leopold Order that I will hand over to you shortly is a national order created by our ancestor Leopold I. That distinction is, therefore, also part of our family history. It symbolises the dignity of our country and our family. I hope you will see this as an encouragement and a sign of confidence.”
The 18-year-old spoke to those family, friends, and government officials assembled saying, “I am happy to celebrate my eighteenth birthday here with you. I will always remember this special moment.”
Her mother, Queen Mathilde was seen wiping away a tear as her daughter spoke while the King held her hand in the Throne Room.Embed from Getty Images
Elisabeth told her parents, “We are a strong team. Thank you, mama, for your availability and your listening ear. Thanks to you, dad, for your trust. I’m sure I’ll always be able to count on you.”
To conclude, she promised the Belgians can count on her, “I realise that I still have a lot to learn. I will also focus on that in the coming years: trying to understand the world better and contribute to improving it by giving the best of myself. The country can count on me.”
After concluding her remarks, the Princess walked across the room to applause and took a seat amongst her fellow 18-year-olds.
The King also addressed her remarking, “When I was 18 I asked myself: who am I? How do I shape my life? I know you do the same.”
Derniers préparatifs pour la cérémonie à l’occasion des 18 ans de la Princesse Elisabeth, Duchesse de Brabant. A suivre en direct à partir de 11h. @blanchemusicbe #BelgianRoyalPalace #MonarchieBe pic.twitter.com/2drO7Ledgx— Belgian Royal Palace (@MonarchieBe) October 25, 2019
Elisabeth’s birthday celebrations were televised live on Belgian television beginning at 11 am. Laureates from the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, Sylvia Huang and Lorenzo Gatto opened the event with violin performances. Dancers from the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp and singers also took part in the celebrations.
The Royal Palace invited other people who turned 18 this year to the palace today to celebrate, and Elisabeth posed with them at the conclusion of the events today. The Royal Palace shared these images on social media saying, “Thank you for the birthday wishes!”
The heir’s parents, three younger siblings (Princes Gabriel and Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore), and grandparents (King Albert and Queen Paola) were all in attendance.
The Duchess of Brabant (the title of the Belgian heir to the throne like the Prince of Wales) is studying abroad in Wales and will return to her school this weekend. She will graduate next spring.