Princess Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant, spoke to the press for the first time today. She and her mother, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians have just finished a visit to Kenya for Unicef, and it was the Princess’ first major mission abroad. Princess Elisabeth said, “This is my first visit to a land in East Africa, and I have had many different impressions. It is a very intense and unique experience for me.” She said she was “very touched” by the small children in the Kakuma refugee camp.
“They are still so small and fragile, but already have so much trauma in their lives. I was also touched by the girls of my own age that I met, who have already had such a difficult life and have lived through so many difficult situations. Yet, they show so much courage and perseverance.
“With this visit here in Kenya, I have seen the work of organisations like Unicef and the impact the aid workers have in the community. More girls are going to school, and the mentality regarding genital mutilation and child marriage is slowly changing.”
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 could now join her mother. The decision to take Princess Elisabeth along was made at the very last moment, and she shadowed her mother for three days.
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.