“Never before have we experienced a crisis like the present corona pandemic. It has caused a lot of suffering for many of us and has very severe ramifications” the king said.
“It’s not over by a long shot, but I am thinking of everybody who has lost loved-ones and were not able to accompany them during the last moments of life. You were not able to say good-bye in a suitable way. The Queen and I and the whole country lock you in our hearts.”
The king said he was also thinking of those who had lost their job, had suffered serious financial loss or had seen their business go to the wall and to those who had had to give up their plans and saw their dreams shattered.
“The crisis has uncovered the fragility and faults of our social model. The most vulnerable are hit first.”
King Filip paid tribute to the elderly, who were more at risk, children, whose carefree existence had disappeared, and the young, whose learning process has been hi-jacked.
The monarch noted that the crisis had exacerbated social inequality by hitting those that were struggling, people in poor accommodation and the low-skilled even harder than most.
“Limitations of our freedom of movement upped tension in families, on the workshop floor and on the street. More than ever our attention should be on those without a voice, who suffer in silence.”
“The challenges we face bring our qualities to light. In difficult times we have seen the power of mutual help and care. I’m thinking of care staff first and foremost, but also teachers. All of Belgium has shown courage and creativity.”
“We have rediscovered the value of the general good, the role of the state and public services. We have witnessed how fruitful co-operation between the private and public sectors and the country’s authorities can be.”
King Filip also said: “In recent months we proved that when it was necessary we can take quick decisions and act in unison. Of course, everything didn’t go smoothly, but we maintained our foothold. Enormous means have been released to safeguard the economic and social fibre and to take the hurdles that await us. Now the challenge is to rebuild and resume our activities with a vision to the long-term using all our energy and ingenuity.”
The king noted the crisis had awoken us from our certainties and forced us to think about the way we live, organise work and education, how we produce and consume and travel.
“This is the time to take a new look at our society and economy” the king said “by building on the human values that we experienced so intensely of late, by electing more righteous and sustainable solutions with ambition and confidence in the future”.
The king added that in order to make the enormous challenge of reinvigorating the economy succeed everybody will have to play their part: “In order to get everybody on board, we require a clearly marked out route.”
“The whole country is urgently calling for a decisive and stable government. Let’s not disappoint Belgium. We can only succeed if we look further than our own personal interest.”
King Filip concluded his address by wishing us all a happy national holiday on behalf of himself and the queen.