Saturday 24 December 2016

King Philippe of Belgium - Christmas Eve Address English Translation (2016)

Ladies and gentlemen,

For most of us Christmas and New Years is a time of happiness. Streets and squares are filled with festive lighting. In the home there is comfort, and the joy in being together and seeing each other again. Unfortunately, the same can not for everyone. For many people these are difficult days. I am thinking of all those who are lonely, or sick, and all those who are very worried. And also all those who have lost a loved one. This year, I am also particularly thinking about the victims of the attacks on Brussels and Zaventem, and on their relatives.

[Maalbeek Metro Station in Brussels and the Brussels Airport in Zaventem were locations of the "Brussels Bombing" in March, that killed 35 and injured 340.]

The events of the past year, in Belgium, Europe and elsewhere in the world, cast doubt on the future.  Many people are worried about their jobs, their income, their safety. Too many young people think their lives, and those of their children, will be worse than their parents. Too many older people are wondering if they can, or should, keep up with the changes of our time. This feeling of uncertainty, desperation, even anger, can lead to a loss of trust, even in the institutions.

And yet I want to send you today a message of hope. Throughout the country, the Queen and I are impressed by remarkable projects in which citizens are involved and who motivate others to become involved.

I see men and women who dare to interact with sincerity and truth. I have experienced this myself when I visit a home where mentally handicapped adults are offered a family environment. To meet without prejudice and affection, to recognize the weaknesses of the other and his own - it has overwhelmed me, how much energy is released in a self. Meekness is a strength.

I also see the work of solidarity and generosity, as when abused and bullied children are cared for during the holidays in a safe environment - and thus find their smile. In families, who accept people who are excluded. In projects, that bring people from different generations and backgrounds closer together. Many do not hesitate to sacrifice their comfort to get closer to the other.

I see finally many young and old who have understood that to succeed, one must have the courage to start over. They refuse to remain on the margins of society. They do not give up. They understand that to succeed is also to want the success of the other, and to accept their help. I think of those who take a helping hand to learn, to study again, to find a job. I am thinking of those retirees who are embarking on new meaningful projects. And to the elders who realize that accepting help by no means means that one has to renounce their dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All these examples express the will to build a society where one sustains one another in difficult times and help each other to achieve success. They show that a warmer society is within reach. These examples therefore deserve more attention. I am convinced that they can trigger a dynamic that enriches our institutions and reinforces confidence in our democracy. This is what I sincerely hope for our country, and for Europe, on the eve of 2017.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Queen and I, and our whole family, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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