Happy birthday, Princess Elisabeth! Belgium’s future Queen turned 18 on Friday, October 25. In honor of her milestone birthday, the teenager was invested with the Order of Leopold, Belgium’s highest honor. The Princess’ celebration, which was held at the royal palace in Brussels, included entertainment from violinists and the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp, as well as a performance by Eurovision singer Blanche, in addition to a heartfelt speech from Elisabeth’s proud father, King Philippe, and another from the birthday girl herself. Queen Mathilde was seen getting emotional during the ceremony. Members of the Belgian royal family were in attendance, along with politicians and young people who were also born in 2001, like Elisabeth.
“Dear Elisabeth, your mom and I are very happy to have you as a daughter. We are proud of you and how you take charge of your life. Do not be afraid to move forward, to meet the challenges. These are all opportunities for a deeper encounter with oneself and others. You shine, you have so many qualities, I am sure that it will bring a lot of happiness to everyone you meet,” Philippe, 59, said in his remarks.
“The Order of Leopold I'll put you in a moment is a national order created by our ancestor Leopold I st . He is also family. It symbolizes both the dignity of our country and that of our family. I hope you see it as an encouragement, as a mark of trust,” the monarch continued. “Happy birthday, my dear Elisabeth. Spread your wings. Be happy. That's what I wish you wholeheartedly, that's what we wish you all.”
The birthday girl, who studies at the United World College of Atlantic (UWC) in Wales, looked chic for her big day wearing a white belted trench dress. Elisabeth told attendees that the celebration would “forever be engraved” in her memory. Reflecting on her 18 years, the Princess noted that they have been filled with “rewarding moments” that have made her the person she is today. “Eighteen is the transition to adulthood. A moment of reflection for all that life has brought me and the chances that have been given to me. And that inspires me a lot of gratitude,” she said.
The heir to the Belgian throne went on to thank her family for their support and encouragement over the years. She said, “We are a great team, also with my brothers and sister, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore. Thank you, mom, for your availability and your listening. Thank you, dad, for your trust. I know I can always count on you.”
Elisabeth concluded her speech, admitting she is “optimistic.” The heir to the Belgian throne said, “I know that I still have so much to learn. That's what I want to focus on in the coming years: to try to better understand the world in which we live and to contribute to improve it, by giving the best of myself. The country can count on my commitment.”