[Notes/Clarifications added by Gert's Royals are in brackets.]
Dear fellow citizens,
The year 2020 has been a huge challenge for all of us, such as we have not experienced in the past decades.
The end of the year periods is often synonymous with warm moments, which we share with family or friends, at home or at a Christmas market adorned with festive decorations. This year, all of this is much more complicated, if not impossible, because a virus, which we all underestimated, has developed into a pandemic and has shaken our daily life, our habits.
The Government immediately assumed its responsibilities. In order to be able to react quickly, a state of crisis was declared in March for a period of three months, a first since World War II. It was a difficult decision with far-reaching implications, supported by the entire Chamber of Deputies [Luxembourg's Parliament].
Yes, our freedoms have been partially restricted. And this in an unprecedented way. But these measures are necessary in order to protect our fellow citizens, our loved ones, and ourselves, and these restrictions are only for a limited time.
Debates in the Chamber of Deputies continue, as it is important to strike the right balance between strict and less strict measures. This is also lived democracy.
Scientists, doctors and governments continue to work hard to find the best ways to protect people. In the meantime, a vaccine is about to be available, which will allow us to reconnect, live without fear and slowly return to normal. This is our hope and our goal!
But patience is required!
Dear fellow citizens,
My first thoughts are with those who have lost their lives to Covid, as well as their families and friends. It is very important to the Grand Duchess and myself that we express our sincere condolences to you.
Our thoughts are also with all those who are suffering from the symptoms of the virus, or who are still facing the after-effects. To you and to all who are sick, we wish you courage.
We also do not forget the elderly or vulnerable, who are often alone at home or in nursing or care homes.
We also think about the children, adolescents and young adults. It’s a particularly difficult time for them. When you're young you want to move, go out with friends, be active in a music or sports club. For almost a year now, all of this has not been possible, or only in a limited way.
A big thank you to all the teachers, who have had to adapt to the new situation in order to perform their essential job despite very special conditions.
Another thought goes to our fellow citizens who are currently in quarantine or in isolation. Each of us knows such people and we have all tried to help them.
This health crisis, which has changed our daily lives, shows us how fragile our health is, both from a physical and psychological point of view, and how important it is for our health sector to be based on solid foundations.
Over the past few months, I have spoken to many representatives of the medical industry, women and men, who are working every day to fight the pandemic. I had the great pleasure of witnessing your commitment. There is no doubt that the current situation is extremely difficult: the daily pressure weighing on you is immense and despite everything, you, the doctors, nurses and staff, are doing a wonderful job.
I want to express a very big thank you for your dedication to all the essential workers.
Likewise, I would like to sincerely thank all French-speaking and German-speaking fellow citizens and border residents for their exemplary commitment.
Each of you plays an important role, without you we could not do it!
In these times, it is the solidarity of a whole society that we need. I am impressed by the togetherness in our country, a togetherness that has lasted for so many months!
We have managed to keep the economy running, albeit at a slower pace and with losses, especially for smaller businesses.
The hotel and catering, events and culture sectors were particularly affected. Many people find themselves facing huge financial losses and not knowing what the future holds. And this despite the measures taken by the Government to support businesses.
The repercussions of the pandemic on our economy are likely to be felt in the long term, especially since the Luxembourg economy is highly dependent on our European neighbors as well as on the world economy.
In the interests of all, therefore, it is essential that we mobilize our efforts within the European Union. I had vivid testimony of this when I visited the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety at la Cloche d'Or last October.
Answers to most questions cannot be found exclusively at the national level, and blind nationalism provides no solution to current challenges. This is why multilateralism, which Luxembourg has always resolutely pursued, is of fundamental importance.
Climate change remains a challenge for all countries and governments around the world. The Paris agreement must be implemented. It's urgent ! Our country is not immune to the impact of the climate crisis and each of us can take responsibility and try to live as sustainable a way of life as possible.
The year 2020 will be etched in our memories for a long time. For me personally, it was also a very symbolic year: I have been your Grand Duke for 20 years. 20 years in which I have been happy and proud to have the privilege of serving the interests of the country and its inhabitants, with the support of the Grand Duchess. I would like to thank you for your congratulations and your trust.
This year has also seen a number of changes at the Palace: with the creation of the Maison du Grand-Duc, the Monarchy is strengthened as an institution and ready for the future. This allows me, the Grand Duchess and future generations to focus even more on the substance of our work.
[Maison du Grand-Duc is the newly created office that deal with the official functions of the royal family. The Waringo Report earlier this year declared the Royals needed a better separation between their public and private live/work.]
A huge joy for our family was obviously the birth of Prince Charles. Prince Guillaume and Princess Stéphanie have been proud parents since May 10. I hope little Charles, his parents and all of us, that we can soon look to the future with confidence again.
These end-of-year days feel like a good time for personal soul-searching into what really matters: family, friends, and being there - for each other.
Yes, we get concerned by looking around us. We wonder about the future. What is important is not to give in, to maintain self-confidence and a positive frame of mind for the future.
Today I would like to recall the appeal that my grandmother, the Grand Duchess Charlotte, made to the population with a much more dramatic background in 1942: “Kommt mir loossen de Kapp an dëse schwéieren Zäiten net hänken ! ” (Above all, let's not lower our heads in these difficult times!)
After darkness comes light!
Together with the Grand Duchess, Prince Guillaume, Princess Stéphanie and all our children, we wish you from the bottom of our hearts a very happy Christmas and a new and better year 2021.