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25 April 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians

at the United States Military Academy,

West Point, Wednesday 25 April 2018


General Gilland, General Jebb, Faculty Members, Cadets,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. Seeing you all gathered here today brings back great memories of my time at the Royal Military Academy of Belgium. And of the pride I felt when I completed my fighter pilot and paratrooper training, nearly forty years ago. Just before studying for two years in the United States. So I know what you sometimes have to endure - and also how it makes you grow. And, being an Army man myself, I can fully subscribe to the spirit of : "Go Army, beat Navy!"

Almost one hundred years ago, on the morning of 24 October 1919, my great-grandfather King Albert 1st was welcomed at this Academy by the then superintendent, Douglas MacArthur. To the cadets gathered before him, he expressed his gratitude and admiration for your Academy, which had trained Europe's liberators so well. He told them that, during the four years of the First World War, he had understood – and I quote "the importance for every officer and every soldier to be convinced that they are serving a noble and just cause".

In August 1914, my country had the status of neutrality. Nonetheless, it was faced with an ultimatum from the German emperor to allow his troops to pass through Belgian territory to invade France. King Albert and the...

24 April 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians

at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly

on consolidating and sustaining peace

New York, Tuesday 24 April 2018




Mr President of the General Assembly,

Mr Secretary-General,

Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished delegates,

The realization of lasting peace in the world - is that not our common ambition? More than ever, we need this peace. And more than ever before it is within our reach. It is not a utopia. We must believe in it and act accordingly. The fact that the number of major violent conflicts has tripled since 2010 compels us to react. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are dying, being forcibly displaced or going into exile to survive. Economies are being destroyed. Countries are struggling to rebuild. This should drive us to react with even more determination, as the implementation of Agenda 2030, adopted only 2 years ago, is at risk in many countries due to the conflicts raging there.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the course of its history, at the heart of Europe, Belgium has suffered the full force of bloody conflicts. My country is totally committed to the United Nations and to European integration because both projects support lasting peace based on dialogue, solidarity and respect for one another. Europe was built on profound reconciliation and gradual rapprochement. For a country like mine, which has for centuries been a land of battlefields,...

22 March 2018

Address by Her Majesty the Queen

“World Ports as Poles and Vectors of Sustainability”

Port of Antwerp, 22 March 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here in Antwerp with you today, for the launch of the World Ports Sustainability Program.

First of all, on this second anniversary of the attacks in Brussels, I am thinking especially of the many victims of terrorism and their families. Working on sustainable development is also a way of fighting the root causes of terrorism.

As an Advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, I welcome the World Ports Sustainability Program. It is a very concrete effort by the International Association of Ports and Harbors to show global leadership to ports worldwide in integrating sustainability into their policies, using the SDGs as their baseline.

So, I would like to say a few words about the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2015, the UN drew up a new 15-year sustainable development agenda, building on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs were instrumental in significantly reducing extreme poverty and infant mortality. At the same time, they helped increase access to elementary education in developing countries.

However, by their target date – 2015 – far too many people still lived in poverty. While too few had access to healthcare, education or decent employment. At the same time, it had become impossible to ignore climate change. Disasters caused by extreme weather conditions were increasing in frequency. Air, sea...

22 March 2018

Mr. Bloomberg,


Thank you for your kinds words. And welcome to Belgium. It is good to see you here in Brussels together with your co-chair Mr. Šefčovič, vice-chair Mrs. Figueres and other board members and staff, for the opening of your international headquarters. We all know that you are a dedicated and successful proponent of the cause of sustainable development. Your recent appointment as special envoy of the UN secretary general for climate action, is the logic continuation of your longstanding commitment. 


Dedication to a noble cause is what characterizes every one of you. Today we remember the terrorist attacks which occurred in this city two years ago. Through our efforts, through your efforts for a better world, we pay tribute to the victims and their relatives.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We live in fascinating times. On the one hand, the issue of climate change has become a real threat and a challenge for us all. It is a wake-up call to reconsider the way we produce, consume and work together. It touches us even in our consciousness, making us question the point of our existence. On the other hand, young people are ready to take up the challenge, recognizing it as a way to give sense. They make full use of the new information technologies to develop their creativity in order to make our world more humane and sustainable. Let ushelp them and encourage them.


I personally visit many projects set up by young social entrepreneurs, which shows how much civil society has mobilized to fight climate change and...

15 March 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians

at the academic roundtable on digital technology in learning and teaching

University of Montreal, Thursday 15 Mars 2018.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you here, in this magnificent university hall, at the end of a seminar which - I am sure - will have been rich in fruitful exchanges. Canada enjoys a prominent position in the world of education. Its schools and universities are highly-regarded far beyond its borders. It is therefore a pleasure to be present this afternoon, with you, in your Alma Mater, to debate a topic which is very much of our time, the interaction between digital technologies and teaching.

These technologies, with which we are all familiar, infinitely expand our ability to find information and communicate. This dazzling and fascinating progression has an impact on all of our societies and, of course, on the way we teach.

We might be tempted to believe that the digital revolution, which has condensed a world of knowledge onto the web, frees us from the task of teaching. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The moment that the belief sets in that we can learn everything by ourselves, and that all knowledge is within easy reach, is precisely the moment when the craft of teaching becomes more crucial than ever.

For the very essence of teaching is learning how to think. The teacher imparts not only knowledge and understanding, but also, and above all, points...

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...

13 March 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians

at the Academic-Scientific Seminar on Multilingual Education and Language Learning

University of Ottawa, Tuesday 13 March 2018

Mr President, Ministers, Professors and Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be able to join you this morning at the opening of your scientific seminar on language learning. Our two countries have a great deal in common in terms of cultural diversity, and the use of languages is crucial in this. So a discussion of the subject during our State Visit is highly appropriate.

Both our countries enjoy the undeniable asset of having multiple communities, each with its own language. Unlike our unilingual neighbours, our two countries unquestionably have the good fortune of being able to learn each other's languages without difficulty. There is enormous potential in Canada and Belgium for learning the second national language. We have native speakers just  a stone's throw away. Our students have ready access to the benefits of a linguistic apprenticeship in their daily lives. As a result, we have gained pre-eminent scientific experience and understanding of multilingualism and all its benefits.

Learning a language is synonymous with self-development. It involves delving into the cultural universe that predates us, and which shapes us. Above all, it means giving ourselves the opportunity to know ourselves better. Although it is essential to deepen and master our native tongue, learning a foreign language adds an extra dimension to our personal enlightenment. It is not just that,...

13 March 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians

at the Commemoration Ceremony to Mark the Centenary of the End of the First World War

Canadian War Museum, Tuesday 13 March 2018.


Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Queen Mathilde and I have come to this museum, which tells the story of the wars in which Canada has participated, above all to pay tribute. In this centenary year of the end of the First World War, I would like to express Belgium’s gratitude towards Canada.

The destinies of our two countries were tragically interwoven in the 20th century, during two world wars. You have preserved here the moving testimonies left behind by the Canadian soldiers, who twice came to fight and, for too many of them, to give their lives on Belgian soil.

Two battles, in particular, are seared into the collective memory. In the Second Battle of Ypres, in 1915, your troops were among the first victims of chemical weapons. And in the third, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele, in 1917, the Canadian losses were huge. The Canadian army played a crucial role in the liberation of Belgium in 1918, and it was at Mons that the last soldier, a Canadian, fell in the Great War, two minutes before 11.00 a.m. on 11 November 1918. It gives me great satisfaction to see that, thanks to the support of the Mons authorities, the Canadian artillery gun that fired the last shells...

12 March 2018

Speech by His Majesty the King of the Belgians at the State Banquet hosted by

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada

Rideau Hall, Monday 12 March 2018.

Your Excellency,

Queen Mathilde and I are very touched by your kind words. We thank you for your warm welcome.

Canada has drawn people to its shores for centuries. They are attracted by the purity of its nature, and the grandeur and authenticity of its landscapes. It is a land where people want to settle, a 'land of settlements', as its Iroquois name indicates so aptly. What also makes your country so attractive is the open-mindedness of its people. As my uncle, King Baudouin, emphasised during his State visit just over 40 years ago, Canada is characterised by a ‘subtle hospitality that makes visitors immediately feel accepted and integrated’. Ultimately, Canada captivates by its idealism and optimism, the faith in the future that you embody so wonderfully, Madam Governor General.

Responding to this call, men and women from every continent have made Canada their home - and continue to do so. From first nation peoples and pioneers - including your ancestors - to more recent migrants, they have all made their contribution to Canada's development and culture. They include Belgians, too. Some of whom have perpetuated the link with their native country, by giving the name their Belgian birthplace to the charming villages that welcomed them in Alberta or Manitoba, Ontario or Quebec. Today, 50,000...

09 February 2018

Speech by Her Majesty the Queen

The SDGs: a Transformative Agenda for the Future That We Want

University of Ghana
Accra, 9 February 2018

Your Excellency President Akufo-Addo,
Vice-Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Students,

First of all, I want to thank His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo for inviting me to address you here in Accra, in the beautiful surroundings of the university.

The President and I share a commitment. We were both appointed by the UN Secretary- General to advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. Your President co-chairs this group. The UN General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals unanimously, in September 2015. Together the 17 goals cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. The provision of adequate healthcare and education, an end to inequality, decent work for all, water and sanitation, energy, the environment, climate change, and so on. Together they form the roadmap for achieving Agenda 2030. In a nutshell, Agenda 2030 is an ambitious commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development worldwide by the year 2030, leaving no one behind.

As a UN Special Advocate for the SDGs, education is one of the areas on which I particularly focus. So I am especially pleased to be able to address you here, at the university. I believe that access to quality education is a fundamental element of sustainable development. Without it, individuals cannot get decent jobs. They remain poor and unable to contribute to the economic growth of their community. As a...