King Philippe of the Belgians addresses his fellow citizens as their monarch for the first time on Christmas Eve 2013
Philippe looked nervous in his first Christmas speech but the event was carried off with style and his simple message was filled with warmth and obvious care and consideration. He spoke of the high level of youth unemployment, the way that poverty had touched on in seven lives this year and of too many people living in isolation. But the new king tried to bring some hope to the issue by mentioning the huge wave of creativity and energy he and Queen Mathilde had seen on their recent travels through Belgium. And he thanked his fellow countrymen for the warm welcome and support the had shown him and his consort after their accession to the throne on July 21st 2013. The abdication of Philippe's father, Albert II, took many people by surprise so it's not clear whether this time last year Philippe thought he would be doing the monarch's traditional Christmas Eve speech. But either way, there's no doubt this new king has a successful first festive missive under his belt now.
Philippe, King of the Belgians delivers his first Christmas message under the watchful gaze of Leopold I, the founder of Belgium's monarchy
King Juan Carlos of Spain has far more experience of speaking to his people at Christmas and a lot of experience in recent years of talking to them about the financial problems their country is facing and the major criticisms the royal family is taking on as well. And this year was no different. Most of the king's speech was devoted to the pain that many of his fellow citizens have endured through high unemployment and very difficult financial circumstances. Juan Carlos also focused on the way that economic problems and unemployment have hit the younger generation and he thanked those who had retired for the way many had become the main financial supports of their families.
King Juan Carlos of Spain addresses his fellow citizens on Christmas Eve 2013
But the most striking part of the king's message this year was his acknowledgement that those in positions of power and importance had let everyone down through poor behavior. And he promised to restore faith by ensuring that exemplary behavior and transparency were upheld at all times. And he, too, had personal thanks for his people after a year which has seen him undergo several major operations. Juan Carlos finished by expressing his gratitude for the kindnesses that had been sent his way in 2013 and emphasized the need for all families to be together at Christmas.
King Juan Carlos promised to restore faith in the leadership of Spain in his Christmas message at the end of 2013