Why Princess Elisabeth of Belgium's 18th Birthday Was Just Celebrated by the Entire Country
Crown Princess Elisabeth of Belgium threw an epic 18th birthday party on Friday — and the whole nation tuned in to watch!
The future Queen of the Belgians — currently studying for the International Baccalaureate at UWC Atlantic College in Wales — celebrated her personal landmark at the Royal Palace in Brussels alongside relatives, politicians and 80 teenagers who share her 2001 birth year.
Yet it symbolized far more than simply achieving legal voting age or receiving the keys to a new car: 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, 59, and Queen Mathilde, 46, suddenly pass away or step down, Elisabeth will become monarch in her own right.
“These 18 years have been filled with many rewarding moments that have made me the person I am today,” the Crown Princess said in a celebration speech, reports Belgian royal expert Wim Dehandschutter.
Alongside a party featuring the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp and Belgian Eurovision star Blanche, her words were broadcast live on three national TV stations — the first Belgian royal event to do so since the December 2014 funeral of Queen Fabiola.
“(It is) A step that I take with great optimism,” Elisabeth added. “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.”
As a birthday gift, the Crown Princess received the honor of appearing on an official postage stamp. Belgium’s new North Sea windmill farm will also bear the name of ‘Princess Elisabeth Park’ when it opens between 2020 and 2030.
This is just one of many items to be named after the Princess — also known as the Duchess of Brabant. On September 7, 2011, she officially opened the new Princess Elisabeth Children’s Hospital in Ghent. She has also given her name to Belgium’s scientific research station in Antarctica.
“My family has always been there to support and encourage me. Together we are a strong team,” Elisabeth said in honor of younger siblings Gabriel, 16, Emmanuel, 14, and Eléonore, 11, reports Dehandschutter.
In a special nod to her parents, she added, “Thanks mama for your presence and your listening ear. Thanks dad for your trust. I know I can always count on you.”