Thursday, 27 July 2017

"It's nice when young people give something back to society. That's what I teach my children"

During her visit to women's magazine "Libelle", queen Mathilde answered a few questions.


You've been active for the UN. What exactly is your role?
I'm an ambassador for the SDGs, 17 new development goals that have been approved by all UN member states, and that should be met by 2030. Eradicating poverty and hunger, installing a good health care and quality education are some of them, but also human rights, peace and security, protecting nature and halting global warming. SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals.

Which role do you fulfill as ambassador?
I lend my voice to those in society who are most vulnerable. I make field visits. Recently I visited local communities in Laos and refugee camps in Jordan. In our own country I encourage organisations and companies to become active in the SGDs. 

Which of the goals do you think are most important?
In the first place I want to invest in health care and quality education. It's completely normal for our own children to visit a doctor or to go to school. But for millions of other children  - especially girls, this isn't normal. We should also pay more attention to mental health care, especially for people who've been on the run for war and conflicts. They've been traumatized. Closer to home this help is needed equally. Increasing numbers of people have to deal with depression and burn out, which prevents them from finding their right place in society.

Are these topics you discuss with your children?
Yes, often. I explain them why we can't waste water or food. And I tell them that there's still so much child poverty in Belgium. One in five children comes from an underpriviledged home.

Is there something we ourselves can do to help?
Absolutely. We should all act responsably in our own community: reduce the amount of water we use, sort out our garbage, not waste electricity... And we must make sure that our mental health is looked after, that we provide good education and high quality schooling. We must make sure our children feel good about themselves.

Which advice would you give to parents?
Talk to your children about bullying at school and about cyber bullying. Pay attention to the teachers who make daily efforts for your children. Get your children to read because it stimulates them to think about things. Stimulate young people to give something back to society, like helping out senior citizens after school. This is what I encourage my own children to do. And don't be afraid to have discussions with your children about social media and its right use. Without any taboos.

She also replied to some of the questions children had formulated beforehand.


Do knights live in your castle?
There are no knights at the castle of Laken, even though my own little knights Gabriel and Emmanuel would run through the corridors. But they're a bit older now.

Do you like eating chocolate?
Oh yes, who doesn't! On top of that we have the best chocolate in the world in Belgium. So let's just enjoy it. Moderatly of course.

Do you really have a golden crown?
No I don't have a golden crown, but I do have a few tiaras. I wear them at special occasions like a grand dinner with many guests.

What's your favorite colour?
I especially like warm colours.

Is it fun to be queen?
It's especially interesting to meet so many different people. Like the Emperor of Japan or the Red Devils, or people who are facing difficulties. I like talking to children and young people. I like listening to their stories and I talk to them about what I think is important like showing respect and compassion for each other.

Are you planning a vacation this summer?
After the National Day we're leaving on holiday with the entire family. We have more time for each other then. We talk a lot and do fun things together like sports, cooking or just enjoying nature. Sometimes we read a book or we don't do anything at all. That's allowed too.

Do you have cornflakes for breakfast?
Sometimes I do. It's important to eat a balanced breakfast. It gives me energy for the rest of the day.

What's your favorite TV show?
I love to watch documentaries. As a family we sometimes watch a film together.

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