Princess Elisabeth to christen the Belgica: a ship with a rich and tragic history
Eva Deschamps / June 23, 2022
Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, the future Queen of the Belgians, will christen the RV Belgica, a research vessel of the Belgian State, on Saturday. This will be the first solo engagement of the Duchess of Brabant, a few days after having ensured her first major meeting between European royalty.
Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, 20, has already given public speeches, attended several official family or public events, and even participated in a humanitarian trip to Africa with Queen Mathilde. For each of these engagements, the heir to the Belgian throne was accompanied by a parent or family member. During the pandemic period, she visited a nursing home without her parents, but she was accompanied by her brother Emmanuel. This was also a more informal visit.
On June 25, 2022, Princess Elisabeth will christen the RV Belgica in Ghent. While this is a first for the Duchess of Brabant, this kind of ceremony is not totally unknown to her either. In May 2015, she had become the godmother of the patrol ship P902 Pollux. She christened it and gave a speech. Queen Mathide had accompanied her.
In 2014, Princess Elisabeth had made a very good impression by delivering her first speech in the three national languages, which are French, Dutch and German, at the launch of the Light Front in Nieuport. A few weeks later, she also managed to read a speech at the funeral of Queen Fabiola. On September 7th 2011, Elisabeth, who was not yet 10 years old, gave her first speech. Princess Elisabeth's first speech took place during her visit to a hospital in Ghent that bears her name: the Princess Elisabeth Hospital for Children. Her first official engagement was during her participation in the Te Deum mass on the occasion of the Belgian National Day in July 2006.
Last April, King Philippe had already visited the RV Belgica and met the ship's staff. In 1979, the Belgian government took the decision to build a real research vessel, the RV A962 Belgica. Construction began at the Boelwerf shipyard in Thames in 1982. The ship was christened by Queen Fabiola on 5 July 1984. The new RV Belgica replaces the old ship.