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King Philippe: 'The day will come when we will be able to see each other again'
2021 will be "a year in which we can move forward again" and "believe again in the future", Belgium's King Philippe has said.
In his traditional televised end-of-year message, the king said the coming months would bring "real perspective of exiting the coronavirus crisis ... but without a doubt we will come out different."
He acknowledged the sacrifices people had made this Christmas, restricting their social contacts and travel plans. "This year, everything is different," he said.
"We celebrate Christmas in our bubble or alone. We have to keep our distance, to protect each other. Fortunately we know that love and friendship are stronger than separation."
The king said the past year had demonstrated everyone's resilience. "The pandemic that has shaken us makes us share the same worries," he said. "It makes us look at things differently and appreciate them differently.
"We have all realised our fragility. The crisis has shown us that we are all dependent on each other and it has taught us to accept it. This dependence, combined with respect and trust, is a force on which we can build."
He also praised the "impressive outpouring of generosity" from the Belgian people, adding: "So many of you have volunteered. We have seen some fine examples: those people who looked after the children of an overworked nurse, or ran errands for a neighbour."
King Philippe said this was a particularly difficult period for young people. "I know times are tough for you," he told them. "But soon you will be able to spread your wings again, make your dreams come true, and inspire us to build a better future together."
The king concluded: "The day will come when we will be able to see each other again and spend time together without constraints, where grandparents can sit their grandchildren on their knees, where we can return to our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, go to a concert or a party in complete freedom."
Photo: Stephanie Lecocq/Belga pool