Per the Belgian royal court (rough translation):
“On the eve of Christmas and New Year, I am pleased to speak with you.
On my accession to the throne, you have given me an unforgettable welcome. I was struck by the intensity of trade between the persons involved in this massive day. Your enthusiasm and confidence have really moved me.
Since July 21, my wife and I met a great many of you. Our happy entries and contacts have enabled us to discuss with you your concerns and your hopes. We learned more about the lives in the most diverse sectors of society. I met the Ministers of Culture and artists from North and South of the country for an exchange of wealth as a result of the cultural agreement between the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and Flanders. I want to continue and deepen this dialogue we have begun to develop with you.
In 2013, our country is highlighted in several areas. The quality of our scientific research has been recognized and encouraged by the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Our B-Fast team made a very effective emergency aid to the Philippines. Our military is engaged in successful operations peacekeeping. Our top athletes win deserved success. With you, I am glad that our Red Devils participate in the World Cup football. Beside that, there is also the result of the daily work of each of you.
All these successes can not hide the difficulties. In our country, one out of four is not working and one in seven people live in poverty. Closures and restructuring has hit us very hard. Too many people live in isolation.
In a difficult socio-economic context, the federal government and regional governments have taken positive steps to consolidate public finances, protect our purchasing power and our competitiveness, support our businesses and maintain our social model. I am confident that this effort will continue.
In recent months and in recent years, my wife and I met many young Belgians overflowing with creativity and energy. We also met people whose talents could not occur or be recognized.
To flourish qualities everyone is everyone’s responsibility. Education and training are essential levers for it. They transmit knowledge, preparing for employment, integration into society and the exercise of citizenship. Developing critical thinking and teamwork, they give young people the opportunity to become men and women engaged and responsible. As parents, my wife and I greet you with the admirable work of teachers and educators. We know that the task is difficult.
It is equally important to build relationships between all components of our society. The links between school and the world of work. Because whenever education and businesses open the one to the other, new job opportunities emerge. The links between generations. The elderly are a major source of experience and wisdom to the young. And, finally, the links between all Belgians.
There fortnight I was in South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela, who so personified the desire to build bridges. Mandela showed us that dialogue and reconciliation can change the world. That inner strength can also be ours.
Ladies and gentlemen, at this time of celebration where we gather with our loved ones, our thoughts go out to all those who suffer and are lonely. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.”