The 17-year-old Duchess of Brabant – heir to the Belgian throne – has joined her mother, Queen Mathilde in Kenya for Unicef in her first major mission abroad. Queen Mathilde has been the honorary president of Unicef Belgium for ten years. She previously visited Haiti in 2012, Ethiopia in 2015 and Laos in 2017. Kenya currently houses around 200,000 unaccompanied minor refugees.
Queen Matilde had mentioned during her last Unicef mission two years ago in Laos that she had wanted to take her children with her, but that school was more important. However, Princess Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant, is currently on a break from school and can now join her mother. The decision to take Princess Elisabeth along was made at the very last moment, and she will shadow her mother for three days.
The visit will begin today in a refugee camp in Kakuma, where refugees are offered the opportunity to work and set up businesses. Queen Mathilde and Princess Elisabeth will learn more about the innovative approach at the refugee camp and will pay special attention to the role young people can play. The Kakuma refugee camp is home to 180,000 refugees, and half are under 18-years-old. They will also visit a school and a shelter for vulnerable children. The visit will end at Masai on Thursday where Unicef is fighting against genital mutilation and child marriages for girls.
Princess Elisabeth also recently joined her father during a visit to the fire brigade in Brussels during her Easter break, but her public engagements will remain limited while she attends school in Wales. She will return there next for the school year.
Princess Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant, is the eldest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, and she will turn 18 in October. However, she is not expected to take up many royal duties until she finishes her education.