King Philippe of the Belgians has delivered his annual Christmas Eve address in Dutch, French and German – the three languages of Belgium.
The King spoke of how this year the Christmas celebrations are different and how the world is facing challenges during this pandemic. However, he also spoke of the hope we have for the future where we can once again get out and spend time with our loved ones. He also spoke directly to the young people of Belgium and encouraged them to make their dreams come true.
He said: “This year everything is different. Tonight we celebrate Christmas in our bubble, or alone. Because we have to keep it safe. Fortunately, love and friendship can bridge any distance.
“The pandemic affects all of us, albeit in different ways. Unfortunately, many of us pay a heavy price for this. Many even die.
“The challenges remain enormous, but the end of the crisis is really within our grasp in the coming months. We can gradually make new plans and have confidence in the future. But without a doubt, we come out differently.”
King Philippe touched on the lessons people can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. “First, we can handle this,” he said before stressing, “When we respect and trust each other, that dependence is a strength on which to lean.”
His Majesty praised healthcare workers and expressed his support for the lockdown. He said: “Out of necessity, our individual freedom is limited by the measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus, which sometimes has serious consequences. But we can accept those limitations, instead of undergoing them. Our freedom is only meaningful if we can experience it together with others and use it for the well-being of others, of the whole of society.”
To the young people of Belgium, the King said: “I know you are having a hard time. We ask a lot from you, and it is true that your life has been put on hold. But soon all this will be over, and you can spread your wings again, make your dreams come true. And you give us inspiration to work together for a better world.”
King Philippe also stressed to the Belgians: “The day will come when we will again interact in a relaxed manner; that grandparents take their grandchildren on their lap; that we return to church, synagogue, mosque and temple without restrictions; enjoy a concert together; that we celebrate again, in complete freedom.”