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“A day will come when we can once again socialise care-free”

Filip, King of Belgians, has addressed his people on the Eve of Christmas.

“Every year we look ahead to celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve together with our family, children, parents and grandparents.  These valuable moments give us security, warmth and light in cold, dark and sometimes lonely winter days.  The Chain of Lights represents this as a symbol of connection and hope”.

“This year everything is different.  Tonight we celebrate Christmas in our bubble or alone. We must keep things safe.  Fortunately love and friendship can bridge every distance.”

“The pandemic hits us all, albeit differently.  Sadly, many of us are paying a high price.  Many are dying.”

“Challenges are enormous, but the end of the crisis is within our reach in the coming months.  We can start to make plans and have confidence in the future.  Without a doubt we will all be changed.”

“What lessons have we learned?”

“First and foremost that we can deal with it. Our health care stood firm thanks to the exceptional efforts and dedication of so many care workers. There are also the people keeping the country running day and night by continuing to work, keeping their country running or guaranteeing a public service or simply by helping when help is needed.”

“In recent months Belgium has shown itself to be incredibly generous. So many compatriots volunteered.  One person takes care of the children of an overworked nurse.  Somebody else does the shopping for a neighbour.  Students teach school children online or help out at a hospital. A chef forced to close his restaurant prepares meals for the down and outs. Professionals from the events sector assist care and residential homes. There are too many examples to mention them all.”

“During this pandemic that has scourged us for nearly a year we all share identical insecurities and cares.”

“As a result we see things differently.  We value things differently too.”

“We are aware that we are all vulnerable.  In recent months a lot has been said about how we experience this crisis.  We listened to each other and understood each other.”

“As a result of the lockdown we better understand what people who are excluded or are lonely must experience.  More than ever we must ensure that nobody is ever excluded.  Everybody deserves a place in society.”

“The crisis showed us how reliant we are on each other.  We learned to acknowledge this.   If we respect and trust each other this reliance is a strength on which we can find support.”

“Our liberty is limited by necessity as a result of measures taken to combat coronavirus that sometimes have serious ramifications.  We can accept these restrictions instead of undergoing them. Our liberty is only meaningful if we can experience it together with others and can use it to benefit the well-being of others, of the entire society.”

King Filip had a message for people of faith:

“A day will come when we can once again socialise in a care-free fashion, when grandparents can put their grandchildren on their lap and that we can return to the church, synagogue, mosque or temple without restriction, enjoy a concert together, when we can party again in all liberty.”

He also singled out the young:

“I know you are having a difficult time.  We are asking a lot of you and your life is on hold.  Soon this will all be behind us and you will be able to flap your wings, make your dreams come true and give us inspiration to work together on a better world”.

“The Queen and I and our entire family, together with you, are looking forward to next year.  It will be a year in which we will be able to embrace the future to the full.”

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