29 October 2019

Princess Elisabeth's Birthday Jewels

Olivier Matthys/Getty Images

On Friday, the Duchess of Brabant celebrated her eighteenth birthday in Brussels. Princess Elisabeth will one day succeed her father, King Philippe, as Queen of the Belgians.




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The royal family gathered at the Royal Palace in Brussels on Friday for a celebration to mark the occasion, and we've got a look at all the jewels!


Belgian Royal Palace

Two days before Elisabeth's birthday, the royal family released three new portraits of the princess in honor of her birthday. This casual photograph shows her looking through a photo album, which is open to a picture of her father, King Philippe, and his siblings, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent.


Belgian Royal Palace

This image, which emphasizes the continuity of the succession in Belgium, features Elisabeth posing beside her father. King Philippe ascended to the Belgian throne in 2013, following the abdication of his father, King Albert II.


Belgian Royal Palace

The third portrait is a glamorous image of Elisabeth in gala dress. All three pictures feature earrings borrowed from her mother, Queen Mathilde.


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The grand throne room of the Royal Palace was packed on Friday for the official birthday celebrations.


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Numerous members of the royal family attended, including King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, King Albert II and Queen Paola, Princess Astrid, Prince Amedeo, and Prince Laurent and Princess Claire.


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Elisabeth's siblings were also in attendance. Sixteen-year-old Prince Gabriel sat beside Queen Mathilde, with Prince Emmanuel (who recently turned 14) and Princess Eleanore (who is 11) to his right.


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Elisabeth's paternal grandparents, King Albert II and Queen Paola, sat on the left side of King Philippe.


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During the celebration, Elisabeth made a speech. Royal journalist Wim Dehandschutter posted a video of the speech, as well as several excerpts of the text. Elisabeth expressed gratitude for the opportunities she's received and for the support of her parents and siblings. She also addressed several of her former teachers who were in attendance, as well as patients from the Princess Elisabeth Children's Hospital (which was named for her in 2011). Notably, she signaled her commitment to making a difference regarding climate change. In the final moments of the speech, she emphasized that Belgium can rely on her both now and in her future role.


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The moment was clearly quite emotional for Elisabeth's parents.


BENOIT DOPPAGNE/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Lots of hugs were shared after she finished her speech.


Belgian Royal Palace

During the ceremony, King Philippe invested Elisabeth with Belgium's highest chivalric order: the Order of Leopold. The order is named after Elisabeth's ancestor, King Leopold I, who become the first monarch of independent Belgium in 1831. Leopold is Elisabeth's great-great-great-great-grandfather. Thanks to a change in the laws of succcession before her birth, Elisabeth will one day succeed as the first female monarch of Belgium.


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King Philippe pinned the small ribbon of the order to Elisabeth's dress during the ceremony. She'll now be able to wear the sash and star of the order at gala events. I know many of us were hoping that she would receive a tiara as one of her birthday gifts, but according to Wim Dehandschutter, she didn't receive one. (Instead, the Belgian nobles gave her a necklace, but no photos of the jewel have been released.) Perhaps a small sparkler like the Wolfers Tiara will be earmarked for her use?


BENOIT DOPPAGNE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

The future queen kept her jewelry simple but interesting for the festivities. With her white coat dress, she wore a pair of intricate gold and diamond stud earrings.


BENOIT DOPPAGNE/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Here's another view of the earrings.


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And here's a close-up view.


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And here's a look at Elisabeth's complete outfit, including her new Order of Leopold ribbon. The dress was designed for Elisabeth by Edouard Vermeulen of Natan, a favorite couturier of the Benelux royals.


BENOIT DOPPAGNE/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Queen Mathilde chose her lovely aquamarine drop earrings for her daughter's birthday celebration.


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And Elisabeth's grandmother, Queen Paola, selected golden jewelry, including earrings and a stack of bracelets.


Belgian Royal Palace

After the birthday celebration, the royal family gathered to pose for a new set of formal portraits. Seated from left to right are Queen Paola, Queen Mathilde, King Philippe, and King Albert II. Standing from left to right are Prince Amedeo, Prince Laurent, Princess Claire, Countess Anna Maria d'Udekem d'Acoz (mother of Queen Mathilde), Prince Gabriel, Princess Eleonore, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Elisabeth, and Princess Astrid.


Belgian Royal Palace

Several smaller group photos were also released. This one, which features Elisabeth with her three surviving grandparents, is particularly nice. (Queen Mathilde's father, Count Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz, passed away in 2008.)


Belgian Royal Palace

This "three generations" portrait features King Albert, II, King Philippe, and the future Queen Elisabeth.


Belgian Royal Palace

But I think my favorite from the session is this photograph of Elisabeth with her brothers and sister.


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In recent years, we've seen Elisabeth participate in several public engagements, including a recent trip to Africa with her mother. But it will likely be some time before the Duchess of Brabant starts working as a full-time royal. She's currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at the United World College of the Atlantic, a residential sixth-form college in Wales. She's due to finish her studies there in May 2020, with further education likely on the horizon.