On 21 November in Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians received the prestigious German Charity Bambi Award from ‘Hubert Burda Media Holding’.
The Royal Palace in Brussels said that the Queen was presented the award for “her many years of dedication and personal contribution to the debate on sustainable development and her commitment to social and humanitarian goals.”
In her acceptance speech, which she started in German and finished in English, the Queen spoke about Belgium and Germany’s common values in human rights and social justice.
She focused heavily on protecting children saying, “I believe that if there is one cause that should be paramount in these unsettled times, it is the future of our children.
“Their future is our responsibility and our societies will benefit from their development. Investing in human capital is essential for prosperity and wellbeing.
“The protection of children’s rights is a cause that is especially dear to me personally. Vulnerable children, in particular, deserve our attention. Children living in extreme poverty, conflict or migration, and those who are in poor health or deprived of a quality education must not be left behind. Girls are particularly vulnerable in this regard.”
She went on to add, “During my field visits in recent years, I have seen many children in complex situations.
“That is why I take every opportunity to give a face and a voice to children, who cannot speak up for themselves. In all my activities as a UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, or as President of UNICEF Belgium, or for the Queen Mathilde Fund, I insist on meeting young people. I want to hear what they think. I want to listen to their voices, especially on issues that affect them directly.”
Her Majesty additionally focused on the importance of mental health in children and how society needs to break the taboo surrounding mental health.
“I feel humbled by this prestigious award. I want to share it with the many people who are committed to defending children’s rights. In particular, I want to share it with the local changemakers in the field, who work so hard, every single day, to create equal opportunities and justice for all.
“Thank you for this wonderful token of recognition, which I dedicate to vulnerable children and youngsters, wherever they are growing up,” Queen Mathilde concluded.
Her full speech can be read here.
Queen Mathilde is not the first royal to be given the honour. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark won it in 2014, Queen Silvia of Sweden in 2006, and Queen Rania of Jordan in 2007.