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Speech by His Majesty the King - lunch Prime Minister of Quebec

15 March 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians at the lunch hosted by

His Excellency the Honorable Philippe Couillard, Prime Minister of Quebec

Montreal, Thursday 15 March 2018.


Mr. Prime Minister,

The Queen and I thank you warmly for your kind words, and for the welcome you have given us. It reflects the rich and intense relationship that Canada and the Province of Quebec share with Belgium.

We are delighted to be back in Montreal, not only to "see the winter and feel the cold", as the song goes, but above all to celebrate the longstanding and deep friendship that unites Quebec and Belgium, and each of its federated entities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The "Belle Province" occupies a special place in the hearts of the Belgian people. It is always welcoming, always vibrant. Over the centuries, the comings and goings between Quebec and Belgium have reduced the ocean that separates us to a small inland sea almost. Farmers, brewers, teachers, industrialists and labourers have all come to Quebec with the hope of a better life. Today, in the digital age, these exchanges are even more intense. Our authors and singers find inspiration from one another. Cooperation between universities and student exchanges are continually growing. The ties between Montreal and Brussels, Namur and many other places in Belgium, are wide-ranging. And with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, new opportunities will be seized

For most of my compatriots, Quebec is synonymous with natural purity. From the banks of the St. Lawrence River to the Great North, Quebec boasts the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer. Unfortunately, we will not have the chance during this state visit to travel further north and experience these magnificent landscapes first hand. But the vast expanses of water, forests, and natural reserves, punctuated with lakes and waterfalls, invite us to nurture a deep respect for our beautiful planet, whilst being aware of its fragility. In the heart of this city of Montreal, the cultural capital of Quebec, which is ranked among the best university cities in the world, we are aware of the importance of education, creativity and innovation for the preservation of our resources and the sustainable development of humanity.

Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both Quebec and Belgium are at the crossroads of cultures. The magnificent Museum of Fine Arts, where you are kindly hosting us today, presents countless works testifying to the richness of our history and respective cultures. Like your natural wealth, this cultural heritage is a source of hope for the future. It demonstrates the talents that humans have at their disposal. And these are without doubt an inexhaustible resource. By combining these talents, their potency grows exponentially. It is with this desire for ever more intense and fruitful cooperation between us that I ask you to please stand for a toast.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to raise your glasses to the health of the Prime Minister of Quebec.