Crown Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, 18, Enrolls in Military Academy: 'The Country Can Count on Me'
Princess Elisabeth, heir to the Belgian throne, will begin at the Royal Military Academy this fall
Princess Elisabeth of Belgium is continuing her education — and prepping for her role as future queen.
The 18-year-old heir to the throne is set to begin at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels this fall, it was announced by the Belgian Royal Palace on Wednesday. She follows in the footsteps of her father, King Philippe, who attended the military university from 1978 to 1981.
The Royal Military Academy trains officers in the four components of Belgian defense: Army, Air Force, Navy and Medical. Only about 150 students are admitted each year after passing rigorous exams including math, French and Dutch language, physical tests and a psychologic evaluation.
The announcement comes after Princess Elisabeth finished two years at UWC Atlantic College in Wales, receiving her International Baccalaureate. Alumni of the school include fellow royals like King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Princess Raiyah bint Al Hussein of Jordan — and Queen Elizabeth of the U.K. currently serves as president of the college alongside Queen Noor of Jordan. (Until his death in 2013, Nelson Mandela was also a president.)
In addition to participating in a number of sports — including tennis, skiing, hiking and scuba diving — Elisabeth also plays the piano, enjoys cooking and volunteers with children with learning difficulties, the elderly, the homeless and people with handicaps, according to the royal family's website.
Princess Elisabeth's 18th birthday in October was a momentous celebration for the entire country — in royal terms, the Crown Princess is now old enough to rule without the help of a regent. This means that should her parents King Philippe and Queen Mathilde suddenly pass away or step down, Elisabeth will become monarch in her own right.
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"These 18 years have been filled with many rewarding moments that have made me the person I am today," the royal said in a speech. "[It is] a step that I take with great optimism. I realize that I still have a lot to learn. I will also focus on that in the coming years: trying to understand the world better — and helping to improve it, by giving the best of myself."
She continued, “The country can count on me."