Esteemed Ethiopian women's rights activist, Bogaletch Gebre, or "Boge" as she is known to friends and colleagues, has been awarded the 2012-2013 King Baudouin African Development Prize for transfor
Your Majesties, Mr. President of the Chamber of Representatives, Madam President of the Senate, Deputies, Senators, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In taking the constitutional oath before you, I am aware of the responsibility which is now incumbent upon me. This oath is a solemn promise which renews the relationship of trust that has existed for nearly two hundred years between the King and the Belgian people.
Today I am succeeding six other Kings, including my father, King Albert. Sire, for twenty years, you have maintained this trust by showing yourself to be on the one hand close to everyone, warm and profoundly human, and on the other attentive and committed in the exercising of your responsibility as Head of State. Queen Paola has assisted you in your task, whilst devoting herself more specifically to such essential fields as education and culture.
With serenity, dignity and devotion, you have accompanied the Belgian people on sometimes difficult occasions, as well as during happy moments, at a time marked by profound change throughout the world. We are most grateful to you.
I am aware of my great fortune to be able to count on the permanent support of my wife, Queen Mathilde. Dear Mathilde, for many years you have channelled your efforts wholeheartedly into numerous activities. You have an innate sense of human contact. Along with our dear children, we shall confidently begin this new chapter in our lives and that of our country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am beginning my reign with the determination to place myself at the service of all Belgians. I shall therefore work in perfect understanding with the government and consistent with the Constitution. Over the years, I have been able to build ever-stronger ties with a great many of my fellow citizens. I intend to intensify this dialogue.
The wealth of our country and our institutional system resides notably in the fact that we have turned our diversity into a strength. Each time, we succeed in striking the balance between unity and diversity. Belgium's strength is precisely its ability to give meaning to our diversity.
The latest State reform has brought about a major transfer of powers to the federated entities. It will bring citizens closer to decision making and enable us to deal more effectively with challenges in the future. Belgium's strength also resides in its federated entities. I intend to maintain constructive contacts with their leaders. I am convinced that cooperation between the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions will bring about greater benefits for our citizens and businesses.
Together we can highlight each individual's talents. This is the source of the genius of our country, which has developed throughout our history. It is a state of mind that has shaped our character and our values. Facing up to the most complex problems together, reconciling various aspirations and integrating them without losing any of their originality and strength has also helped forge our inventiveness and our sense of moderation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The values that inspire us have guided generations of men and women before us. Through their commitment in society and politics, they have ensured our country has acquired a high level of prosperity and solidarity. They have provided both a solid framework for enterprise and effective social security.
We are now confronted with a crisis that is hitting many of our fellow citizens very hard. Today I would like to encourage every man and woman to face up to this challenge. I am profoundly convinced that there is unsuspected potential in each one of us which is waiting to be revealed. Besides we have together the means to surmount our difficulties and guarantee everyone the opportunity to progress.
Now more than ever, the European project has to give us hope and confidence. The Europe we are working towards must bring growth and solidarity. We are proud that our capital city is also the capital of Europe and that at each moment in its history, Belgian leaders have worked at the heart of this great project. During my missions abroad, I have been able to observe how much Belgium's assets, its talents and strengths are appreciated throughout the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the spirit in which I shall work during my reign. I shall support all of our qualities, in Belgium and abroad.
Together, let us bring a new surge of enthusiasm to our country.
Long live Belgium! Vive la Belgique! Leve België! Es lebe Belgien!
The new website dedicated to the ceremonies for the abdication of King Albert II and the swearing-in of the future King Philippe is online.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
C'est avec émotion que je m'adresse à chacune et chacun d'entre vous aujourd'hui.
Je suis entré dans ma 80ème année, un âge encore jamais atteint par mes prédécesseurs dans l'exercice de leur fonction.
Je constate que mon âge et ma santé ne me permettent plus d'exercer ma fonction comme je le voudrais.
Ce serait manquer à mes devoirs et à ma conception de la fonction royale que de vouloir me maintenir en exercice à tout prix, sans être en mesure d'assumer pleinement mon rôle.
C'est une question élémentaire de respect envers les institutions et envers vous, chers concitoyens.
Après 20 ans de règne, j'estime donc que le moment est venu de passer le flambeau à la génération suivante.
Je constate que le prince Philippe est bien préparé pour me succéder. Il jouit avec la Princesse Mathilde de toute ma confiance.
Au fil des années, notamment dans le cadre des missions économiques menées à l'étranger, le Prince Philippe a montré combien ses engagements envers notre pays lui tiennent à cœur.
Et par-dessus tout, avec le temps j'ai appris que notre pays peut compter sur un atout extraordinaire, VOUS mes chers concitoyens !
Avec une population si riche de ses talents, de sa diversité, de son énergie, de sa générosité, l'avenir de notre pays est entre de très bonnes mains !
C'est donc avec sérénité et confiance, que je vous fais part de mon intention d'abdiquer ce 21 juillet 2013, jour de notre fête nationale, en faveur du Prince héritier, mon fils Philippe.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Tout au long de mon règne, une conviction profonde a guidé ma conception de la fonction royale.
Le rôle du Roi des Belges et sa légitimité est de se mettre au service de la démocratie et de ses concitoyens, seuls titulaires de la souveraineté.
A cet égard, l'institution royale doit continuer à évoluer avec son temps.
Comme de coutume je m'adresserai encore à vous le 20 juillet prochain, et je participerai avec la Reine et les nouveaux Souverains aux cérémonies du 21 juillet.
Je souhaite déjà vous dire que ce fut pour moi un honneur et une chance d'avoir pu consacrer une large partie de ma vie au service de notre pays et de sa population.
La Reine Paola et moi n'oublierons jamais tant de liens chaleureux tissés avec toute la population durant ces 20 dernières années.
Nous vous remercions pour la confiance que vous nous avez témoignée, pour vos gestes de sympathie et de soutien même empreints parfois de quelque critique. Sachez cependant que vous nous avez toujours été très chers.
Nous gardons dans notre cœur le souvenir de nombreuses rencontres dans des moments joyeux, mais aussi lors de grandes épreuves.
Bien entendu, la fin de mon règne ne signifie pas que nos chemins maintenant se séparent. Bien au contraire !
Meine Damen und Herren,
In unserem Herzen bewahren wir Erinnerungen zahlreicher sehr glücklicher Momente, aber auch sehr schwerer Prüfungen.
Das Ende meiner Regierungszeit bedeutet natürlich nicht, dass sich unsere Wege trennen. Ganz im Gegenteil!
Es lebe Belgien! Vive la Belgique !
Youth and education
Born in 1960, the young Prince Philippe was educated bilingually (in Flemish and French) at Belgian state primary and secondary schools, and then at the Belgian Royal Military Academy, a bilingual higher education establishment. Inspired by a passion for flying and space adventure since childhood, he chose to join the Air Force, where he qualified as a fighter pilot. He completed his military training with the para-commando course.
He then left Belgium to continue his academic studies abroad. After one term at Trinity College, Oxford (United Kingdom) he went to Stanford University (USA), where he graduated with an MA in Political Science.
Returning to Belgium in 1985, he began to learn about his country's political, social and economic realities. His spent eight years meeting Belgium and the Belgians, through numerous visits, meetings, conferences and missions, which led him on a discovery of all aspects of his country's functioning.
Also during this time, the young Prince Philippe acquired an in-depth knowledge of areas of particular, personal inquiry. He takes a keen interest in history, literature and philosophy. His study tours have enabled him to meet all kinds of committed people, be they leaders or ordinary citizens. He closely follows the European construction process.
Prince Philippe gained various experiences in the humanitarian field.
The death of King Baudouin in 1993 marked a turning point in the Prince's life. Upon accession to the throne by his father, King Albert II, Philippe became heir apparent to the throne at the age of 33.
Heir to the throne
From this time on, his public role became established. In line with the major issues of the time, his main areas of involvement are international missions at the service of the Belgian economy and Belgium's image abroad, sustainable development, dialogue between the Belgian linguistic Communities, support for vulnerable people and the promotion of talent.
At the request of King Albert II, he took over the honorary presidency of the Foreign Trade Agency. In this capacity, he has led 85 Belgian economic missions abroad over the past 20 years. Today, the positive impact of these missions is widely acknowledged. Prince Philippe builds bridges between Belgian and foreign companies as well as between Belgian companies.
Another of the Prince's major concerns is sustainable development. Since 1993, he has presided over the Federal Council for Sustainable Development, which brings together economic, social, environmental and scientific bodies from around the country to formulate recommendations to the government. In the same vein, he also accepted to become Honorary President of the International Polar Foundation.
His action also involves dialogue between Belgium's three language communities of French, Dutch and German-speakers. The "Fonds Prince Philippe" was created in 1998 to promote dialogue between groups of citizens from the different communities, in order to encourage greater mutual recognition and respect for their individual identities and cultures.
Aware of the many possible forms of marginalisation, Prince Philippe takes up numerous opportunities to meet with its victims. Here also, he visits human fragility in the field, whether it is caused by illness, social exclusion, accidents or natural disasters.
He supports Belgian talent in all its manifestations, be they sportsmen, artists, scientists, explorers or gifted young people, Prince Philippe follows them all with great interest.
In 1999, Prince Philippe presented to the Belgians the person who, a few months later, was to become his wife. Both undertake their official duties in a complementary manner, inspired by a shared, complicit commitment to their various chosen fields of involvement.
Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde combine their family life with the ceremonial and official demands. They personally supervise the education of their four children, Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eléonore. The children enjoy a multilingual education and attend school in Dutch.
Holidays are spent with family and friends. In their free time, the Prince and Princess read avidly and play sports. Prince Philippe goes running regularly and took part in the Brussels 20km race in May 2013.
Youth and education
Princess Mathilde was born on 20th January 1973 in Uccle. She is the daughter of Count and Countess Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz.
Princess Mathilde attended primary school in Bastogne and secondary school in Brussels, where she went on to study speech therapy, graduating in 1994.
As a young adult, she volunteered with organisations for the disabled and experienced the challenges of field work in deprived neighbourhoods of Cairo. She also spent some time abroad as an au pair. Together with friends, she backpacked in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Between 1995 and 1999, Princess Mathilde had her own speech therapy practice in Brussels and studied psychology at Louvain-la-Neuve, graduating in 2002.
A modern Princess
In 1999, Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz married Belgian crown Prince Philippe and stepped on to the public stage. Her speech therapy and psychology studies, as well as her experience as a self-employed professional, meant she was well prepared to assume her new duties. The wide variety of tasks and challenges she has since taken on, have helped her to blossom in her official role.
Princess Mathilde has always been very interested in education. Through the foundation bearing her name, she supports initiatives in Belgium which help the most vulnerable members of society and ensure their voices are heard. And, in her capacity as UNICEF Belgium's honorary president, she encourages children to actively participate in society.
The princess regularly meets individuals and associations who keep her up to date on the many issues about which Belgians are concerned. In this way, she stays in touch with national matters. In addition, she is patron of many organisations which assist the most impoverished in our society. The princess supports literacy projects and efforts to encourage reading aloud, and is particularly interested in the status of women, social enterprise, micro-finance and health issues. As honorary president of Breast International Group she is kept informed about scientific research to find a cure for breast cancer.
The princess often accompanies her husband on official trade missions aimed at both promoting Belgium's economic interests and its image abroad.
She is also personally very committed to humanitarian matters. As a special representative for UNICEF, UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, she has visited many developing countries and has been touched each time by the inner strength of those who live in difficult conditions. Those experiences have confirmed her will to support Belgian development cooperation efforts.
Princess Mathilde places great emphasis on pursuing her own lifelong education. As a member of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders she has the opportunity to make many contacts which may be beneficial for our country. She has attended leadership courses at Harvard and Yale.
Looking ahead, Princess Mathilde wants to continue to help build a humane society, in which love, respect and mutual support are key components; to build on the strengths of tradition in the context of a contemporary world.
The love and support of her family are an inexhaustible source of energy for Princess Mathilde. She tries to achieve a balance between her public activities and her family life. She is often asked to read aloud at the Flemish-speaking school attended by her children. Her four children - Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore - are being raised as multilingual and are being exposed not only to literature, but also to music, sport and the arts. They are growing up surrounded by their contemporaries. In addition, since they were very young, they have participated in social service and leisure activities where they are in regular contact with children from all walks of life.
Family holidays allow the children to appreciate outdoor pursuits such as hiking, sailing and skiing.
Le Conseil des Ministres restreint s'est réuni ce 3 juillet 2013 à 13 h 15 en présence du Roi.
On Wednesday May 22th 2013, the King Baudouin African Development Prize will be presented in attendance of the Royal Family in the Royal Palace in Brussels.
Dames en Heren,
Address by H.M. the King
National Day, Brussels, 21 July 2012.
Dames en Heren,
The Queen Elisabeth Competition celebrates this year its 75th birthday. It was established in 1937.