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Queen Mathilde: “I’m a strict mother”

Queen Mathilde has given a rare interview in connection with the final of the Queen Elisabeth Competition Violin 2019. In the exclusive interview with Canvas, Her Majesty talked about her love of music, her four children and the close relationship she had with Queen Fabiola.

On Saturday evening, the laureates of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition Violin 2019 were announced. As Honorary President of the Competition, Queen Mathilde gave an exclusive interview to Canvas about her work for the world famous contest. Over the past weeks, the Queen has often attended the various sessions of the Competition. In the final week, she even spent each evening at the Royal Lodge of the Bozar.

As a young girl, Queen Mathilde discovered her great passion for music. As a trained pianist herself, Her Majesty became acquainted with the Queen Elisabeth Competition as a student. After her marriage to then Prince Philippe, Mathilde often accompanied her aunt-in-law Queen Fabiola, who was the former Honorary President of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. The Queen has fond memories of those times as she revealed: “She had so much experience, and I have listened to her advise. It was a very beautiful experience. (…) She (Queen Fabiola) was so passionate about it (the competition), and she had such an imagination. (…) Sometimes it was hard to stop talking in the lodge. A challenge to stay silent.”

Her Majesty is determined to continue the legacy of the late Queen Fabiola. Queen Mathilde said: “I really want to encourage music with young people. I try to do this, for example, through my foundation (Queen Mathilde Fund) to introduce music to vulnerable children. These vulnerable youngsters can find recognition, a positive recognition in the music. I also want to support music by visiting conservatories and by being present at the different sessions of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.”

The Queen was also asked about the importance of the Queen Elisabeth Competition that is known worldwide as one of the most prestigious music contests in the world. About this, she said: “It is very unique for our country, and it is also unique worldwide. It really are the best players that come here, laureates from all over the world who come here for several weeks. Also, the judges are experts from all over the world. It is good for the reputation of our country.”

Music is also a passion that she has passed along to her four children. In the recent interview, Queen Mathilde said: “They all have a love for music.” Her oldest daughter, Princess Elisabeth, and oldest son, Prince Gabriël, play the piano. Her other son, Prince Emmanuel, plays the saxophone, an instrument that was invented by the Belgian Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. Queen Mathilde brought along her youngest daughter, Princess Eléonore, to two sessions of the Queen Elisabeth Competition this year. The 11-year old Princess plays the violin.

Coming along with their mother to a classical music competition is not an obligation for the children, Queen Mathilde revealed. She said: “They are asking to come along. Eléonore came along yesterday. She plays the violin well. (…) She really insisted on staying (until the end), but I said no, I’m sorry I might be a strict mother but she had to go to bed. However, she follows the competition closely, on television and YouTube. And I think it’s important that they have a love for music.”

After the interview, Queen Mathilde also had a burning question for the interviewer as she asked: “Are you never afraid to fall out of your lodge?” The Queen was worried as the presenter of the Competition is often seated at the edge of the lodge to be able to have a good view of the room.

The Queen Elisabeth Competition was founded in 1937 by Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians and her friend, the sublime violin player, Eugène Ysaÿe. The two friends wanted to establish an international violin competition, but due to World War II, it was only in 1937 that the first Eugène Ysaÿ Competition was held. Due to the war and the subsequent economic hardship, it took until 1950 for the prestigious competition to be relaunched. The competition was renamed the Queen Elisabeth Competition that same year. The Queen Elisabeth Competition has four disciplines: violin, piano, cello and voice. Every year another discipline is played with this year being the 19th violin session.

Queen Elisabeth passed on the Honorary Presidency to Queen Fabiola who was its President for 49 years. In 2013, it was Queen Fabiola’s time to pass on the Honorary Presidency to Queen Mathilde.

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.