King praises “strength in diversity”

King Filip of the Belgians has made his traditional televised address to the nation. The address on the eve of Belgium’s National Day (21 July) is one of two such address made by the Belgian monarch each year, the other being on Christmas Eve. In this year’s National Day address the King praised the Belgian national football team whose achievements he says are living prove of the validity of the Belgian national motto “Unity is Strength”. The King also calls on us to turn our weaknesses into strengths and stresses the values of projects that provide added value  to society. The speech was published in Dutch, French and German. has translated it into Engels so as to allow an audience at home and abroad that doesn’t speak one of Belgium’s  three languages the chance to read what the King said.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Red Devils excellent performance during the Football World Cup enthused the entire country. With them and all together we experienced some unforgettable moments. This is one of those moments in the life of a country that the underlying feeling of pride and belonging comes to the surface. Our national team has also given form to our national motto “Unity is Strength”. Together were are strong, in our diversity, when we pool our talents and strive towards a common ideal.

There is of course the result in its self. However, what makes the exceptional performance by our team is the way that they did it: with fair play and respect for their opponent. And the way in which each player made his talent available for a common goal: our country’s honour.  

In our personal lives and in society in general we asses our strengths based on results, but also based on the way in which we achieve these results, driven by a common aim. Because we are trying to achieve things together our individual talents and short-comings are reconciled. In order to be strong, to succeed and ultimately to be myself, I need to be able to rely on the strengths of others and through this I become better aware of my own strengths. This is because I work for and with my fellow man. While looking for what unites is we draw on the richness of our differences. Then our weaknesses can be turned into strengths. The search for unity doesn’t deny these differences, on the contrary it embraces them. Getting results in this way, makes it all the better.   

Ladies and gentlemen,

What we are experiencing today is a fundamental change in our way of thinking. The 21st century is the citizen’s century. The century of conscientious citizens that want to contribute to common the common good by working on meaningful projects.  

By looking for what is meaningful the common good gains a truly human dimension.

Belgium is a divers and lively society. For countless initiatives in our country the aim is not efficiency or making a profit, but all creating human added value.     

Social enterprise is a fine example of this. The public and private sectors, profit and non-profit are growing ever more strongly closer together.

This zeal enriches our democracy. It feeds our engagement at all levels, in our immediate surroundings, but also in how we act in the world. We work at meaningful project in our municipalities, where in October elections will be held.     

Our country contributes constructively to the international order, like at the UN Security Council where we will have a seat from January next year. There we will be able to promote to the full the ideals that are close to our heart: development and peace.  

Let us allow the strengths that are so particular to us, to do its work as much as possible, whenever and wherever we can.

This was the path shown to us by King Boudewijn who died 25 years ago. King Boudewijn was a man of hope. He took his strength from a deep belief in humanity. He was always ready to listen, always ready to let everyone’s strong points come to fruition. This provides us with a powerful source of inspiration.

The Queen and I wish you a fine National Day.

Long live Belgium.



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