King Philippe – a unifying force for a divided country
By Ann Englander
King Philippe or Filip was born on 15 April 1960 at Belvedere Castle, Laeken. He is the eldest child of King Albert II and Queen Paola. He succeeded his father upon Albert’s abdication in 2013.
Albert and Paola’s marriage was an unhappy one and they were usually absent from Philippe’s life. His neglect was so severe that a child psychologist said it justified intervention by social workers. There was even talk of Philippe suffering from a mild form of autism.
Philippe was educated in both languages. He found the move from one language school to another problematic. “In my youth, I had many problems at school. I felt badly treated. It was not easy for me”, he once said to a group of disaffected teenagers.
After attending the Belgian Royal Military Academy, he continued his education at Trinity College, Oxford and then on to graduate school at Stanford University where he obtained an MA in political science. Interested in aerospace since childhood, he joined the Air Force where he qualified as a fighter pilot. He is also a certified parachutist and commando.
In 1999, he married Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz, daughter of a Walloon count and a female descendant of various Polish noble families. Unlike his parents, he is happily married to Mathilde who has proven to be very popular. They have four children. Their eldest, Princess Elizabeth, is first in line to the throne. She will eventually be the very first female monarch. Ten years prior to her birth, a new act of succession was put into effect which introduced absolute primogeniture allowing women to become monarch for the first time.
Philippe is also a fifth cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II since they share a common ancestor, Francis, whose eldest son Ernest I was the father-in-law of Queen Victoria.
Philippe played a role in forming the coalition government after the 2014 federal election. Compared to other crown heads of Europe, Belgian monarchs play a much more important role in some aspects of running the government. In 2020, Philippe announced regret for the “acts of violence and cruelty” committed in the Congo Free State, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The King has since his accession undertaken international missions to promote the Belgian economy and the country’s image abroad. In 1993, he took over as Honorary President of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency. Another of his interests is sustainable development. He is Honorary Chair of the Federal Council for Sustainable Development and of the International Polar Foundation.
He also actively fosters dialogue among the country’s communities. With the Prince Philippe Fund, he has helped to promote dialogue among the different language communities to encourage greater mutual recognition and respect for individuality and culture.
Philippe has now been on the throne for ten years and has proved to be a popular monarch. On 21 July, the Belgian National Holiday, there was a procession which included a military and civilian march past. To celebrate his ten years on the throne, Philippe witnessed 10 F-16s flying over the Palace in formation. A quirky aspect of the civilian part of the parade this year, was the new, extra high ladder for Belgian firefighters which at 64 metres is the longest in Europe. This newly purchased fire-fighting equipment can reach as high as the 16th floor of any tall building.
Charity Walks Walking for our Club charities!
Charity Walk no 4: Coastal Walk – 09 June
On Friday, 9 June, a group of Club members met and set off early from the Gare Centrale to Ostend. After a quick coffee to get us going (see photo!), we started our walk along the coast towards Middelkerke – a perfectly sunny day with a breeze to keep us cool. After ten kilometers we reached our destination; by this time some of us were starting to flag so it was time to hop on the tram back to Ostend: mission accomplished! We had booked a lunch table on the Ostend promenade to celebrate our achievement for the Club charities and then, weary but still in good spirits, we returned to Brussels by train.
Charity Walk no 5: Lasne – 20 June
On 20 June, Wendy and Kathy led a walk in Lasne. It was a hot day but, luckily, much of the walk was on sunken footpaths in shady parts and the walk was not too hilly. Lasne is a particularly attractive area, so it was worth taking the trouble to get there in spite of very annoying roadworks which can make it difficult to find your way. Interesting conversation and much banter made the walk an extremely enjoyable one. After a welcome stop for a refreshing glass of water at Kathy’s house the walkers made their way through fields and eventually got to the Auberge de la Roseraie.
This is a lovely restaurant and was the highlight of the walk as the group sat in the pretty garden and enjoyed a refined lunch together for quite some time.
CharityWalk no 6: Vilvoorde – 14 July
Despite a few last minute cancellations, 7 of us enjoyed the Vilvoorde/Drie Fonteinen walk. And on a Friday, we had the bonus of escaping the weekend speeding bikers in lycra and helmets! This walk can also be done reaching the starting point by STIB public transport (47 and 56 buses). Walking is mainly on pathways and is quite flat.
We headed off towards the Brasserie Drie Fonteinen and through the green wooded area following Cypressenweg up to the (Chapel) Lendrikkapel. We then made our way out of the Domein to cross over the Europabrug to the other side of the canal. This part of Vilvoorde is made up of chic new apartment buildings and busy industrial recycling centres. We continued towards Brussels along the canal path and enjoyed a coffee at Cafe GAYO (also accessible by car). On to the Budabrug … Help! No way to cross over the canal as the bridge is still under repair after a ship collided with it last December. So we walked back to the Salangaan footbridge and crossed over the canal and back into the Domein Drie Fonteinen. Three of us enjoyed a light lunch and a welcome beer in the restaurant. A sunny and interesting walk. Vilvoorde itself is also accessible by boat from the canal close to Metro stop Yser (https://www.waterbus.eu/en/stop_brussels-sainctelette.php)
Golf July and August 2023 Lady Captain’s Report
The Golf Club continued to hold competitions during the summer month. On 30 June we had a fixture – 3 clubs and a putter – at Brabantse, sponsored by Janny Vrolijk. It’s not very easy to play with so few clubs but it does speed the game up, which was very necessary that day as the June heat wave continued. However Carol Jones and Sybil Beaton both scored a commendable 17. Janny handed out lovely prizes which she had sourced in S. Africa and generously ensured that no one left empty handed.
Our popular fixtures at Golf Park Tervuren have been brought forward to 15.00 instead of 16.30, which suits most members. The first one on 3 July was well-attended with 12 sign-ups. Suzanne Hogedoorn, a new member in 2023, had her first win with 17 points over 9 holes. She must be due for a handicap cut! The second GPT on 17 July was also very well attended. After earlier downpours the sun came out and we enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon with a pleasant cool breeze. Catriona White scored a Birdie on Hole 4 with a spectacular hit from a bunker, onto the green and into the hole. It seems that our Ladies are having problems scoring on the shorter 9-hole courses so Janice Meanwell, our Competitions Secretary, is considering organizing lessons in scoring for our members! On 12 July at the hilly Sept Fontaines, both Veronica Trestour and Janice had 36 points but, after counting back the last 9 holes, Veronica was the winner. However, the score was so close that they agreed to share the prizes of scented candles and soaps.
Unfortunately, the weather changed and we had nearly three weeks of continuous rain. On 24 July Pierpont was cancelled. On 1 August only Suzanne Hogedoorn and Myfanwy van de Velde signed up so the competition was cancelled.
On 11 August the weather was perfect for golf – sun and a lovely breeze at Louvain-la-Neuve. Again, the sun must have played with the ladies’ heads as the counting was a challenge for Janice in-putting the scores on the i-Golf website. Maybe we do need to organise a refresher course in filling in competition score cards correctly? The winner was Janice and she presented herself with a sleeve of balls.
The sun continued to shine. There was another heatwave, so Janice agreed to limit the fixture at Kampenhout on 21 August to 9 holes. Only 4 ladies played because Barbara Briggs had to cancel due to road works on Ring 0 at Waterloo. On a Monday the Clubhouse is closed but, after a very sunny, pleasant 9 holes the 4 ladies had an agreeable aperitif session on the shady terrace courtesy of Janny Vrolijk. The scores were not great but they had fun, which is what it’s all about.
Carol Jones (Lady Captain)
Those of you who knew Linda Kelloway (Area 3) will be sad to hear that she passed away on 31 July in St. Luc hospital.
Another favourite of Carole Jenner’s
Banana Bread – a deliciously gooey version.
3 very ripe bananas – mashed with a fork
200 g Brown sugar
100 g Butter
2 well-beaten eggs
150 g SR flour
Half tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar. By hand, mix in the mashed bananas and beaten eggs. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together and mix into the wet ingredients.
Line two 500 gr. loaf tins with baking paper and pour in the mixture. Bake at 180° for about 35/40 minutes.
When cool, slice but no need to butter the slices!