“Your generation in particular has developed a keen sense of the current social, climate and environmental challenges. You yearn for a just, fairer and cohesive society. You are fully aware that our natural resources will not last forever. You know our way of life will have to change. It makes you critical, but also inventive and creative.”
“Your mother and I are very happy you are our daughter,” King Philippe continued, looking affectionately at his daughter.
“We are proud of you and the way you take your life into your own hands. Don’t be afraid to move forward, to take on new challenges. You glow, you have so many qualities and I’m sure that will bring much happiness to everyone you will meet over the course of your life.”
The King also spoke about Belgium, describing it as “a country that draws its wealth and power from its diversity and human capital.”
He also touched on his role as King: “the monarchy is an institution that is human above all else. It serves the people. Every King and Queen, each with their own personality, is called upon to bring out and stimulate the best in everyone. That’s what it means to be ‘King of Belgium’.”
“Happy birthday, my dear Elisabeth. Spread your wings. Be happy. That’s what I want for you from the bottom of my heart, what we all want for you,” he concluded in French, Dutch and German.
The King will later invest his daughter into the Order of Léopold. “It’s family tradition. I hope you see it as encouragement, as a mark of confidence,” he said.
The speech was followed by a presentation from the Antwerp Royal Ballet school.