Not only your country watches the steps of its next queen. Elizabeth of Belgium , 19, is the oldest of a group of princesses who are called to reign in Holland, Norway or Spain. The Duchess of Brabant, whose preparation has accelerated since she came of age, is now immersed in her year-long military training , having completed her baccalaureate at UWC Atlantic College in Wales , where the princess will also be trained. Leonor. The studies and internships to assume the leadership of the Armed Forces in the future have been a parenthesis before her university career, which the Belgian press assumes will also be abroad.
Belgium sees Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Felipe and Matilde, like a breath of fresh air in a royal family haunted by scandals, from the abuses of the colonization of the Congo that the current king had to condemn to his sad role during World War II, when he was transferred to Germany. The papers pointing to a secret affair of King Baudouin with his stepmother and the eight-year judicial battle waged by Delphine Boël until she was recognized as the legitimate daughter of the King Emeritus, Albert, has not given respite to subsequent generations. The rise of the first woman to the throne thanks to the repeal of the Salic law in 1991 is seen as a shock to the Crown.
Isabel, born in the current millennium, grew up in the castle of Laeken with her brothers Emmanuel, Gabriel and Éléonore. The heir to the throne was educated at Saint-Jan Berchmans, a Dutch Catholic school located in the center of Brussels, near the Notre-Dame de la Chapelle church. It was the same school chosen for his brother Gabriel and to which the princesses Luisa María and María Laura had already attended. It was not until the age of 11 that he made his first official act at the inauguration of the Ghent university hospital that bears his name. In 2013 she gave her first speech, on the occasion of the commemoration of the Great War, in French, Flemish and German.
Her great public act, however, took place on her 18th anniversary At that time, Isabel was already studying her international baccalaureate at St Donat Castle, located about 26 kilometers from Cardiff (Wales) and built in the 12th century. “There is no school for future queens. There is no education or a specific course. But that school is close to that, ”explains the journalist specializing in royalty from the daily Het Nieuwsblad , Wim Dehandschutter, who imagines that Philip V called the Belgian monarch to ask for references about that center in view of the schooling of Princess Eleanor.
La The Belgian royal family chose the school for its diversity – it welcomes 350 students from 119 countries – and for being based on the educational method of the German professor Kurt Hahn, who has found wide acceptance among European royalty . There Isabel obtained knowledge about climate change, religions or geopolitics and had to do social work . But the regal castle walls also gave the royal family the possibility that their heir could remain Lizzie for a while longer, preserving her adolescence and keeping her away from the palace spotlights. Dehandschutter points out that this has to do with Felipe wanting to preserve that stage of his daughter's life after he had an unhappy youth due to the turbulence that Alberto and Paola's marriage was going through. And she thought that an “international adventure” could be a good experience for the young woman.
Isabel finished her education in Wales at a distance because of the pandemic. And, once finished, he began his military training at the Military School in Brussels. This new stage has indeed generated a certain debate, since part of Belgian society questions whether it is necessary for a monarch to pass through a military camp. The Belgian heiress, however, shortened that chapter of her education from the traditional four years to just one, during which she underwent stiff physical discipline and learned army techniques.
Belgium now wonders what the next step is. for the princess. It is assumed that Isabel will go to university, and probably again the royal family will choose to send her abroad. That will avoid the debate of whether you should go to a French or Dutch university, or to a free or Catholic school. And although his university training will come, he does not have to do it immediately either and, as Dehandschutter recalls, he could decide to stay a while longer in the army or to fulfill an idea that he suspected for a long time: take a sabbatical year to discover the world before reigning. your country