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Queen Mathilde’s visit to teenage mothers praised for bringing their story ‘out of the shadows’

Queen Mathilde has paid a visit to teenage girls receiving support from a youth care facility. Her visit to Le Tobbogan, a facility in Mons, took place on January 26th after a week’s delay when it was revealed that she may have come into contact with a staff member at the palace who had been exposed to the coronavirus. In the interest of public health and safety, her visit was rescheduled.

During her visit, Queen Mathilde was able to talk with educators and officials at the facility, as well as with the teenagers—some of whom are young mothers—who are under their care.

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While visiting Le Toboggan, Queen Mathilde also had the chance to learn more about its Marsupilama Project, which supports teenage mothers as they try to carve out a life for themselves and their children.

Speaking to the Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure, Grégory Vacoillie, one of Le Tobbogan’s educators said that “It was an honour for us to welcome the Queen. Her coming is recognition of all these years of working in the shadows. She made us feel at ease after three minutes, it was really nice.”

Queen Mathilde’s visit was also inspired by the way the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of the young women in need of Le Toboggan’s services, which she took time to discuss with the staff and women there.

Vacoillie told the newspaper that, during the lockdowns, “We advised the young girls remotely by phone or video. It is a different organization but we nevertheless managed well in this unprecedented situation.”

Director Fabienne Jeanson noted that Queen Mathilde “was curious…especially to know how it goes on a daily basis for mothers. She talked to them and tried to understand the help that is being given here.”

One of the young mothers said that Queen Mathilde’s visit “moved me. I had never seen someone from the royal family. It was a good experience because she really listens and we were even able to ask her questions too.”

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.