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Elizabeth of Belgium starts her military service and puts the future of European heiresses on the table

August 31 was a day marked in red for the Belgian royal family. The sovereign’s heir, Isabel, who turned 18 in October 2019, began her military training. That old milli that seemed to have been left behind was once again present in the young woman, who was settling in the military camp of Elsenborn, near the border between Belgium and Germany, to spend four weeks learning techniques such as map reading and camouflage, but also something less innocent, like handling weapons.

When it takes half the stipulated time, the Belgian palace has decided to publish photos of Isabel in those facilities guarded by 150 soldiers. In them, the young woman is seen as just another soldier: wearing military clothing and large boots, wearing a helmet, ear protectors and protective glasses and wearing the, in times of coronavirus, a mandatory mask.

In addition, as announced at the time, Isabel is also seen with weapons. They are part of her training, and in fact you can see how the instructors teach her to shoot them at targets that are nothing more than cardboard panels. Elizabeth, who is called to become the first queen of the Belgians since the country was founded in 1830, appears serious, concentrated and attentive to the instructions of her superiors. In the images, she is also seen surrounded by other young people, eating in the canteen (with due safety distance) or in military formation. In total there are 100 classmates in her class, although only 21 are women.

After these four weeks of intensive learning in a boot camp, Isabel will take another step in her military training. Then she will move to the boarding school of the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, where she will already receive classes focused on theory for a whole year. Here, along with a physical training, she has also received certain theoretical lessons.

In Belgium Elizabeth’s military training has caused some controversy. While some experts say this step will put you in the spotlight and make you a role model, others say you should focus your training on more practical issues. “You should specialize in economics and law. Have a good base to become queen in a country as complex as this. Is it useful for a king to know how to use a weapon? ”, Thierry Debels, author of several books on the royal family, told EL PAÍS.

The future of Isabel of Belgium, the oldest of the young European heiresses – with the exception of Victoria of Sweden, 43 – opens the door to consider what will happen in the future with Amalia of the Netherlands (who will turn 17 in December) , Ingrid from Norway (she will reach the same age in January) and of course with Princess Eleanor, the youngest of them (she will celebrate 15 years in October). It is unknown what steps they will take in their training, since their parents, an older generation, underwent military training, in many cases mandatory at that time. However, late in the 21st century, this type of instruction is not so frequent or, sometimes, so well accepted.

In Isabel’s case, she has decided to follow — apparently voluntarily — in her father’s footsteps, but in a reduced way. The today King of the Belgians spent three years receiving military training. Fundamental years for him in which he lived one of the best stages of his life and in which he even graduated as a fighter pilot and paratrooper.

After passing through Elsenborn and after finishing this year at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, it is suggested that Isabel take a sabbatical year for a personal project such as traveling or doing some kind of volunteering … Then she would continue her university studies, probably in the United States, where his father also studied and where he would avoid the controversy over the choice of a city and whether it is a Flemish or Walloon faculty.


elpais.com