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Princess Elisabeth of Belgium celebrates her 18th birthday at Royal Palace in Brussels
“The country can count on my commitment,” announced Princess Elisabeth of Belgium at an official ceremony to mark her 18th birthday at the Royal Palace on Friday.
Addressing her family and a gathering that included VIP guests, politicians, her former teachers and 80 youngsters also born in 2001, the future heir to the Belgian throne delivered a speech in French and Dutch.
It included a tribute to her tearful parents King Philippe of Belgium, Queen Mathilde, and siblings Prince Gabriel, 16, Prince Emmanuel 14, and Princess Eleonore, 11.
“I think of my family who have always been there to support and encourage me. We make an incredible team, also with my brothers and sister,” she said.
Turning to the invited teenagers, the princess underlined her commitment to the climate cause: “I share your preoccupations for the future and in particular the climate and the solidarity that we need to bring to address it. I have faith in the future. I am driven by the same hope and the same desire to make a difference.”
The ceremony in the palace’s opulent Throne room was broadcast live on the country’s three main television channels.
Currently studying at boarding school in South Wales, Princess Elisabeth was presented with the Order of Leopold, the oldest order of chivalry by her father.
The occasion was significant because the princess is now officially legally old enough to rule without a substitute regent being appointed.
Photo: Crown Princess Elisabeth with dancers from the Antwerp Royal School of Ballet dancers Belga/Frederic Sierakowski