Friday, 25 December 2020

King Philippe of Belgium - 2020 Christmas Eve Address (English Translation)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Every year we look forward to celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve together with family, our children, parents and grandparents - with friends. Those precious moments bring us security, warmth and light, in these cold, dark and sometimes lonely winter days. That is what the Chain of Light also stands for: a symbol of connection and hope.

This year everything is different. Tonight we celebrate Christmas in our bubble, or alone. Because we have to keep it safe. Fortunately, love and friendship can bridge any distance.

The pandemic affects all of us, albeit in different ways. Unfortunately, many of us pay a heavy price for this. Many have died. 

The challenges remain enormous, but the end of the crisis is really within reach in the coming months. We can gradually make new plans and have confidence in the future. But without a doubt, we come out differently.

What lessons can we learn from this crisis?

First of all: we can handle this.

Our healthcare system has stood firm, thanks to the extraordinary effort and dedication of so many healthcare providers.

Then there are all the people who keep the country going day and night - by continuing to work, running their businesses, or continuing to provide public services. Or simply by offering help where it is needed.

And in recent months, the country has shown itself to be incredibly generous. So many fellow countrymen have volunteered. We have seen good examples of this. Someone is keeping an overworked nurse's children. Another does the shopping for the neighbors. Students teach primary and secondary school students online - or lend a hand in the hospital. A chef who has had to close his restaurant is now preparing dishes for the homeless. And Professionals from the event sector make their know-how available to residential and care centers. And there are many more examples.

The pandemic plaguing us for almost a year, we share the same uncertainty, the same concerns.

It has made us see and appreciate things differently.

We have become aware that we are all vulnerable. Much has been said in recent months about how we are living this crisis - we have listened to each other and we have understood each other.

Let us continue to speak honestly and frankly.

The lockdown gives us a better understanding of what people who are excluded or lonely have to endure.

More than ever, we must ensure that no one is excluded anymore. That everyone gets a place in society.

This crisis has made visible how much we depend on each other. And we have learned to dare to acknowledge that. When we respect and trust each other, that dependence is a strength on which to lean.

Out of necessity, our individual freedom is limited by the measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus, which sometimes has serious consequences. But we can accept those limitations, instead of enduring them. Our freedom is only meaningful if we can experience it together with others and use it for the well-being of others, of the whole of society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The day will come when we will again interact in a relaxed manner; that grandparents take their grandchildren on their lap; that we return to church, synagogue, mosque and temple without restrictions; enjoy a concert together; that we celebrate again, in complete freedom, ...

I would like to conclude with a message for young people.

I know you are having a hard time.

We ask a lot from you and it is true that your life has been put "on hold".

But soon all this will be over and you can spread your wings again, make your dreams come true. And you give us the inspiration to work together for a better world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Queen and I, and our entire family, look forward to next year with you. A year in which we can fully embrace the future again.

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